Another nail in the coffin for programmatic ads?

Advertisers have long had strict rules about the placement of their brands. But the evolution of the automated digital ad business, including that of Facebook, Twitter and Google, has led to some distasteful situations for advertisers, including the placement of hundreds of their banner ads — including those of politicians — atop jihadi videos on YouTube.  Oooops.

Facebook said it will place 1,000 staff members on a team to review ads and soup up its machine-learning abilities to address the problem. But the revelations are dragging the company and other online firms into a huge and potentially costly embarrassment.  Typical Facebook putting water on a fire that is already out.

One ad executive, who did not want to be identified because of business relationships with the online companies, said that a recent test run of ads on YouTube found they were placed adjacent to content that didn’t meet the firm’s requirements 30 percent of the time. After the Las Vegas shooting last week, for example, false conspiracy theories wound up high on YouTube’s search results, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. YouTube said it would tweak its search results to show more reliable sources of news.

Some of YouTube’s largest advertisers in 2016 dropped their spending by 95 percent or more , according to Pathmatics, a company that tracks online advertising, and measured desktop ad spending.

Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the WPP Group, an advertising holding company whose agencies spend billions of ad dollars around the globe, said the pressure on Facebook is going to intensify. He said he has urged Facebook for some time to acknowledge that it is not just a platform.

“They are a media company,” he said. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]“They seem to have acknowledged the need for human review and that you can’t just rule by algorithm alone.”[/inlinetweet]

So what does all this mean?  For media companies, it means more work and less reliability of programmatic advertising.  For brands it means that their online ad spending is going to have to be closely scrutinized, but let’s face it, this should have been happening a long long time ago.

Programmatic advertising may be approaching its demise and that is good because you shouldn’t take the human equation out of ANY advertising.

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