Brands unaware of where their online advertising appears: Top Tips

By Chris Lee

With an estimated £2.4 billion* spent each year on online display advertising, a new report has suggested that 38 per cent of UK advertisers have no insight into where their content appears. The findings by content verification technology provider Project Sunblock also showed that nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of senior marketing professionals have no way of gaining access to real-time analytics on their marketing efforts.

Project Sunblock’s COO Andrew Goode has provide New Media Knowledge readers with exclusive tips to avoid the pitfalls outlined in the company’s study.

Transparency is essential

In the study, nearly half of all marketing decisions makers reported that online advertising is not transparent enough and does not 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. 

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.  

“Now that technology like Real-Time Bidding is the norm, the buy and sell of digital advertising 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,” Goode warned. “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.”

The marketer’s survival guide to online advertising

Online advertising is still a relatively new science and it is by no means perfect, according to Goode.

“Despite that, it’s rare that businesses and marketing departments devote as much resource to controlling online advertising as they have done with more traditional advertising, such as print media, broadcast, or brochures,” he added.

Goode recommends these four best practice steps:

Don’t stick your head in the sand: “Project Sunblock’s recent research found over a third of UK brands have no idea where their marketing content is appearing online,” he said. “Although the Internet may seem like an advertising mecca for brands wanting to reach a much wider audience, brands need to be proactive in managing their online ads and be aware of the risks. Identify and avoiding the dangers of appearing alongside harmful content isn’t the domain of the ad agency, so it’s vital that markets take proactive control over their brand’s online destiny.”

Be a chameleon: “The nature of the Internet means that online content changes every second,” Goode warned. “A website may change its content once an ad has already been published meaning that the new content could easily compromise the brand’s reputation. The trick here is to continuously adapt to your surroundings by monitoring where your ads are appearing in real-time.”

Don’t settle for second best: “The placement of online display advertising is vital for success. Getting onto the right website and next to the right content is one thing, but getting in front of the viewer is another,” Goode advised. “If your advertising is appearing right at the bottom of the page, it’s unlikely to be clicked on and therefore won’t get you the best return on investment. Content Verification technology can help monitor and control where adverts are appearing to ensure brands are getting the best bang for their buck.”

Be agile and get more from your campaigns: “Real-time data on online ad campaigns is like gold dust for marketers. The data can be used to allocate budgets so that more is spent in the areas which are generating more click-through, and you can even make changes to your approach at the campaign’s half way point if you aren’t getting enough traction,” he concluded.

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

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