It seems bizarre to be writing this, but do you know where your programmatic ads are running? Brands including Jaguar Land Rover, Sandals and Marie Curie have pulled back on some digital ad spend in the wake of an investigation by The Times that claimed their ads were appearing next to content by extremists, pornographers and white supremacists.
As the Times stated in their recent investigation, advertisements for hundreds of large companies, universities and charities, including Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose and Marie Curie, appear on hate sites and YouTube videos created by supporters of terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Combat 18, a violent pro-Nazi faction. The practice is likely to generate tens of thousands of pounds a month for extremists. An advert appearing alongside a YouTube video, for example, typically earns whoever posts the video $7.60 for every 1,000 views. Some of the most popular extremist videos have more than one million hits.
There are calls for internet firms especially Google ads & Youtube to do more to halt the spread of extremist content but what can you do as a brand to ensure you’re not funding terrorism? Larger brands seem to be struggling to identify the root cause of the issue and have mostly stated that they are reviewing their processes with the agencies they work with. A Google spokesman said: “Some content on YouTube may be controversial and offensive, which is why we only allow advertising against videos which fall within our advertising guidelines. Our partners can also choose not to appear against content they consider inappropriate, and we have a responsibility to work with the industry to help them make informed choices.”
But the question remains, what safeguards can you put in place to ensure your ads are running only where you want them to?