In the past, brand safety has not been a big concern for most companies. Recently though, the major digital platforms have allowed posting of hate speech and false statements (especially relating to political posts) and have disseminated content globally without any review or monitoring of the content. While Twitter was relatively quick to label some of the political statements as possibly false, Facebook refused to take any action for months. As a result, in July more than 1000 companies boycotted Facebook, including the likes of Verizon, Starbucks, Coke-a-Cola, North Face, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Unilever, Levi Strauss and Ben & Jerry’s. This demonstrated the concerns and risks of advertising on major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. You never know when your ad might be displayed next to undesirable content such as hate speech or false information.
While you can use negative keywords with Google campaigns such as COVID-19, popular phases can greatly limit your visibility as a large majority of articles mention such a pervasive topic in their articles. This now results in your ads being over limited on their reach. This demonstrates the difficulty of finding the right balance and placements for your ad using algorithms. While they make marketing program setup easy and setup for large volumes, they do not always match your goals for placement of an ad based on keywords or intent.
Even with industry pressure for reforms, these platforms are so powerful that they can still choose to avoid implementing the reforms demanded. Facebook only recently gave in to implementing some limited efforts to delete or label hateful or false ads but not to the extent demanded by these companies. This puts your brand reputation at great risk and does not give you full control over how and when your ads are displayed. There is also a context issue with B2B companies of having their ads appear in most cases where people are doing personal browsing, so their mindset is not focused on work related activities.
Facebook is not motivated to control hate speech or fact check postings as the more controversial content gets shared and commented on more, so enhances traffic and engagement stats. While their stats may be impressive, the numbers are inflated by these kinds of posts going viral.
There are brand safe media platforms; however, where only industry specific information is the focus of the website content. Industry media sites vet all content and only publish information pertinent to the site’s focus, so this type of undesirable content is not relevant and never published. In addition, industry specific sites have the appropriate audience an advertiser is seeking even before doing targeting or remarketing.
Advertising with industry specific sites allows a company to micro-target their audience using demographic information, application or market targeting or specific company targeting. While these audiences are not nearly as large as Facebook or Google, they are the appropriate audience so can result in much higher quality leads, reducing the burden on the sales/marketing team to vet potential clients. Industry media companies also present ads in the proper context since people reading the content are focused on work activities at the time, so they are the proper environment to present B2B advertising messages. Buyers are more apt to make purchases then since they are at work and looking for products or services as opposed to browsing content at home for personal reasons.
It is always advised to use advertising vehicles that match your marketing strategy and goals. Using multiple platforms is always a good idea to get exposure and leads from various audiences. While brands should not totally abandon these major platforms, they should consider giving stronger emphasis to those media companies that deliver the best quality leads for the money spent without putting your brand’s reputation at risk!