The days of set-and-forget ad buys are over

AdWords for Dummies

Photo: Stephan Mosel (CC)

Brands don’t have time to buy ads by outlet. It would mean an impossible number of hours devoted to working with thousands of TV and radio stations, websites, blogs, social media channels, publications and more.

We see these ads everywhere for local, regional and national companies.

But these blanket campaigns come at a cost: shooting for a larger, less defined audience.

And in the digital space, we’re seeing customers and activists pushing back on media buys. They’re taking the time to alert each other and advertisers to these unintentionally controversial placements.

One of the most visible activist groups is Sleeping Giants, which targets ads (obviously a major revenue stream) on Breitbart and other conservative news sites. Users who spot companies advertising on Breitbart — which traffics in content that is sexist, racist and xenophobic — send alerts on social media to reach Sleeping Giants and the advertiser in question.

Sleeping Giants claims at least 900 companies have canceled ads on Breitbart as of February. The organization and its followers haven’t slowed down in its first 12 months, as shown in the tweets above from earlier today.

YouTube is facing its own advertiser backlash, but instead of political content, it’s videos that attract views and comments from pedophiles. This is the second time in 2017 that the video giant has faced a content crisis: In March, brands fled YouTube after discovering their ads running on videos that feature hate speech and terrorism.

Digital ad buying is fairly easy to launch and manage. Text, image and videos ads can run across sites, search engine results pages, videos, apps and more, based on keywords, topics, specific sites and many other criteria.

But it also makes it pretty easy to put your brand next to nasty content.

Shop carefully, monitor placements, and be ready to pause campaigns if something’s not right.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y’all Connect. See his full bio.