The Australian advertising industry is holding talks this week aimed at curbing unsafe digital media advertising that damages brands amid a backlash in the UK against Google’s advertising practices.
The chief executive of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, Sunita Gloster, said local brands wanted to be confident their ads would not end up next to extremist or other undesirable content.
Last week the Guardian withdrew online advertising from Google and YouTube after it emerged that its ads were being inadvertently placed next to extremist material via Google’s AdX ad exchange.
“As [Procter and Gamble’s] Marc Pritchard said in his four-point global action plan for cleaning up the digital media supply chain – the time for talking is over,” Gloster said.
In a frank speech earlier this year, Pritchard said: “We have a media supply chain that is murky at best and fraudulent at worst. We need to clean it up and invest the time and money we save into better advertising to drive growth.”
Traditional media advertising has been rapidly replaced by computerised, or programmatic, advertising systems, where the parties transact digitally in a similar way to buyers and sellers on the auction site eBay. This means advertisers have no control over where their ads end up.
Gloster’s industry lobby group is holding a media forum in two states this week to address the pitfalls of digital advertising. “Chief marketing officers around the world are now focused on a very significant set of challenges in digital media,” she said.
The threat is coming from rising ad fraud from bots and criminal syndicates and the lack of accountability for measuring ads in the global media supply chain, as well as the unpredictability of ad placement.
“Advertisers now want fast, decisive action for achieving real transparency and accountability through the media supply chain,” Gloster said. “It’s important – media is the biggest single expense in the marketing budget.”
In the UK and France several corporations, advertising firms and government departments are pulling their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site after they were placed next to extremist material.
MCN is an Australian agency that sells advertising for Foxtel, Fox Sports and Network Ten. Its chief executive, Anthony Fitzgerald, said brand safety was a big selling point for the agency, which set it apart from YouTube or Facebook.
“This is an issue that is growing rapidly,” he said. “There is growing momentum in the market and advertisers are starting to get an understanding of the impact this may be having on their business.”
Brands could suffer significant damage from being associated with extremist content, he said.
“First of all the ads are not going to be effective,” he said. “If you’ve got somebody sitting at a computer and they’re not feeling good and they’re feeling anxious and then they see a pop-up video consisting of hate speech and then a client’s brand ad comes up before, during or after it, you’d have to be thinking, ‘This is not doing my brand health any good.’
“No one is suggesting that Google and Facebook don’t have a place. Google says it believes absolutely in free speech but they don’t yet have the tools in to ensure that their environment is brand safe.
“This applies to newspapers as much as it does to broadcast and I am a huge believer in brand safe content.
“Most of the advertising that is bought today outside of premium publishers and broadcast networks is bought programmatically and you could probably describe it as not brand safe.
“Advertisers should buy their media from premium broadcast and publishers who create, curate and control all the content that they run.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010