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The Google Ad Dustup in a Nutshell

Big advertisers like General Motors, Walmart and PepsiCo defected from YouTube last week after news broke that their ads were being displayed alongside or over top of objectionable content, including hate speech and terrorist-oriented websites, around the world. The issue reached a fever pitch when it was revealed Google and YouTube had a less than rock-solid answer as to how to fix the problem. In a world where digital ad spending now outpaces TV spending, it’s imperative advertisers—and more importantly, the agencies that work for them—ensure their ads are ending up in the right places, and not just not in the wrong ones.

Why Did This Happen?

It starts by understanding how digital advertising plans are built in the first place: The days of digital media buying based on placement, whether it’s a website or YouTube channel, are long gone. Today, savvy marketers and agencies (Austin Williams included) buy and place digital ads based on their targets’ demographics, such as age, income, gender and geography, and by behavior—things like stated interests, hobbies and activities, and the websites they frequent.

Therein lies the problem: While this user-focused approach definitely improves the performance, efficiency and ROI of digital media spend, marketers and their agencies do lose some control as to specifically where those dollars are spent. Obviously, you can select placement by site and channel content (even down to the page or column) to help ensure it’s brand safe and aligned with your mission, vision and values. But the dynamic nature of the digital world means you can’t just “set it and forget.” You have to keep an eye on it—always—and be ready to make a change a moment’s notice.

What Can I Do?

That’s where our real-time digital monitoring and management kicks in. We continuously track all our digital placements for:

  • Overall performance. Is this website, channel or video driving results? It’s receiving lots of impressions, but is it also driving click-throughs and conversions? If not, then we figure out why, optimize its performance or look elsewhere.
  • Brand alignment. What may be appropriate content for a brand one day may be all wrong the next. Again, what appears online is constantly changing. With real-time monitoring and management, we know when the sentiments change and can make the necessary adjustments.

The key takeaway of the Google ad dustup? Digital media buying based on your targets’ profile isn’t an exact science. But monitoring and managing your placements in real-time—for both performance and brand alignment—is the best way to drive campaign performance, efficiency and ROI.


Managing Partner


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