More than a third of brands have no idea where their online advertising is appearing

By Andrew Goode

38% of UK advertisers have no insight into where their content is appearing online, leaving their brands open to negative associations with some of the darkest corners of the internet. That’s the finding from new research carried out by content verification technology provider Project Sunblock, which also showed that nearly two thirds (62%) of senior marketing professionals have no way of gaining access to real-time analytics on their marketing efforts. As a result, around £2.4 billion* is being spent each year on buying display advertising that could end up anywhere on the internet.

In the study, nearly half of all marketing decisions makers reported that online advertising is not transparent enough and doesn’t provide enough brand protection. And when asked about appearing next to negative online content, pornographic websites were voted as the most destructive to brand reputation. This was closely followed by sites fuelling terrorism, and illegal sites such as video or music streaming services which came in third place.

In fact, Project Sunblock’s data** shows that around 7.78 billion display advertising impressions are served alongside brand-damaging content each year, including categories such as phishing, malware, illegal drugs, violence and pornography.

Based on feedback from this research and its existing customers, today, Project Sunblock is taking its content verification tools to a new level to ensure greater brand safety online. There is a major transparency issue when it comes to online ad placement. But Project Sunblock’s new user interface offers access to analytics and automatically protects brands from appearing next to damaging content, all in around 3 milliseconds.

With the second generation of content verification tools, brands and marketers will get access to rich, accurate, granular data, designed to help them get the best possible value from their digital media spend.

Now that technology like Real-Time Bidding is the norm, the buy and sell of digital advertisings is becoming more instantaneous and harder to track than ever before. If left unchecked, brands are leaving themselves open to a raft of potential threats and a proportion of the UK’s online advertising spend will continue to fund criminal activity. Big brands are effectively allowing their collateral to be hosted on illegal or sexually explicit websites, and each time that happens, brands are putting money in the back pocket of criminals.

We’ve even seen examples of banks appearing on porn sites, or broadband providers appearing on peer-to-peer sites where visitors can illegally download the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Brands need to address the threat sooner rather than later, and with our new technology platform we’re offering them to chance to do just that.


*Based on calculation derived from The 2013 Internet Advertising Bureau’s Digital Adspend report. The report showed that ad spend was £3.04bn in the first six months of 2013, 40% of that spend year on year is £2.4 billion.

** Negative website placement accounts for 1% of all ad impressions bought in the UK, which amounts to 7.78 billion display impressions.

The research was conducted on behalf of Project Sunblock, with 268 senior marketing decisions makers at mid-sized (50-500 people) UK brands.

About the author and Project Sunblock

Andrew Goode is COO at Project Sunblock.

Project Sunblock is a leading brand protection solution, developed to protect brands that advertise on the internet. Providing content verification solutions in 11 languages, the company has achieved accreditation from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and is recognised as the only tool able to react to real time changes in page content. By using IBM’s global filter database, which analyses 150 million URLs per month, Project Sunblock helps brands such as Microsoft Advertising mitigate the risk of their advertising appearing on inappropriate websites.

Project Sunblock is headquartered in the UK, with offices in the Unites States and Canada. For more information please visit Project Sunblock’s website.

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