You may have heard the uproar and what I think is an overreaction to some ads being published on some dodgy offensive websites via Google Adsense/Adwords. As is the way with the world these days, some companies saw this as an opportunity to cash in and loudly scream their disgust by boycotting Google until assurances were made it won’t happen again. Never miss an opportunity to show outrage – I’m doing that now myself!
This boycott apparently “signals a growing backlash against so-called programmatic trading, which automates the buying and selling of advertising online”. The online news sites wouldn’t be pushing an agenda here because they’d rather advertisers take overpriced media buys while spruiking traffic numbers and exposure rather than an automated system they can’t deliver that puts ads in front of your ideal customers?
The affected advertisers are asking for assurances that their ads won’t show on sites they don’t want – but Google already gives the advertisers complete control. You don’t need to let the campaign run wild if you want control over your brand; you can actually limit your campaigns publishing options right down to specific URLs. If you want more exposure than that then you can block URLs too… plus dozens of other ways to control where your ad ends up.
I came across another article on Brisbane Times this morning, which pushed the traditional advertising channels agenda again, saying that these scattergun online ads are killing brands. Tony Featherstone goes into detail about how this would never happen in print and having an ad follow you around suddenly loses value because the person – the same person, mind you – saw a luxury car he was interested in on a fan forum or football site. The nerve of that car company.
How can this re-marketing hurt the car company’s brand when the only person seeing that ad is the person who already showed interest by visiting the company site in the past? The other readers on the football site aren’t seeing the ad so the car company is risking itself to try and get you to remember that car. It’s smart and the car company is doing it because they have the data to show that the remarketing works for them.
The same can be said for an online ad appearing generally on the wrong site. If that site is so wrong for the brand then that brands customers are none the wiser. How is the damage happening?
Instead of doing what many online newspapers do and shove unrelated ads down people’s throat, Google is giving the advertiser the ability to match their ad with their ideal demographic. As I’m reading the Brisbane Times article I can see an ad for pet food and another for Expedia in the content – wouldn’t that space be more productive to an advertiser that sells a product or service I’ve actually shown I might have a need for?
Tony’s article then goes into how his past magazine clients would never be so careless to knowingly mix their brand with the their competitors or in a poor position. Times have changed. Magazines and other print media is sold based off promises for exposure and results that can never be accurately measured; itself is a scattergun approach because you never know who is really seeing the ad or what action the different demographics take. A women’s fashion magazine is naturally going to attract certain readers but by online advertising standards, it is still broad.
Online advertising lets the advertiser know in clear metrics how their campaign is performing and whether controversial techniques such as remarketing work. It is a lot more affordable than media buys or print advertising and best of all you don’t have to commit to a massive pre-purchase just to try it out. Yes, if you are trying to build brand and not direct results then you should be careful with how you run the campaign but Google does provide the tools for that necessary control. All of the complaints can already be avoided if the campaigns are run by a competent Adwords manager or team.