‘It is about brand safety and visibility’

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 28 Mar 2017

PETALING JAYA: Companies are worried about using advertising networks because they fear their advertisements may be placed alongside offensive content.

They would rather place their advertisements on the websites of premium publishers and established media groups, industry pundits say.

“It is about brand safety, visibility and genuine exposure,” explained Innity Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Fabian Looa.

“While the advertising trend today is about using Google’s video-sharing site YouTube, Facebook, and search engines ... is this the right way to go?” he said.

Advertisers are losing confidence in open ad networks because they tend to combine the statistics of premium and small publishers, resulting in a “serious quality issue”.

“Big publishers, in general, have integrity and thus provide brand safety assurance to advertisers,” he added.

Big companies like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks and PepsiCo recently started pulling out of YouTube because their advertisements appeared next to inappropriate content that promotes extremism, terrorism, violence, or hate speech.

They complained that they have little control over the placement of their ads and are indirectly funding such content because YouTube shares revenue with these video creators.

Google said it is extensively reviewing its advertising policies on YouTube.

“We have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear,” its parent company Alphabet Inc said in a statement.

“While we recognise that no system will be 100% perfect, we believe these major steps will further safeguard our advertisers’ brands and we are committed to being vigilant and continuing to improve over time.”

Special adviser to the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA) Khoo Kar Khoon said digital advertising expenditure has become significant in the last three years, but issues of transparency and brand safety have slowly cropped up.

Traditional platforms, on the other hand, have established methods to measure advertising efficiency, even though they may not be 100% accurate, he added.

“We are of the opinion that these (digital) platforms must be brave enough to be examined by independent audits,” Khoo said.

Innity’s Looa said industry players were considering establishing an approval system to control the quality of digital ad space.

If implemented, a third party transparent viewability audit firm would be appointed to analyse the value of publishers.

Publishers can optimise their sites in terms of content, brand safety, viewability and fraud traffic, while advertisers who recognise this certification could ensure effectiveness and value for money, he said.

Prashant Kumar, senior partner of local marketing services agency Entropia, said the ad network industry needs to have stronger accountability by having a greater say on how they manage the environment and the advertisements.

For the time being, some of his clients prefer to use a third-party content verification system to ensure their advertisements do not appear next to inappropriate content.

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