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Spray and pray is your problem not Google’s

Spray and pray is your problem not Google’s

You could almost hear the voiceover say, ‘this isn’t just any extremist video. This is an M&S sponsored extremist video’.

This week, Google and its video darling, YouTube, got dragged over the coals for poor advertising policies.  These have left brands exposed to being associated with some pretty questionable content, however, I’m left pondering one question, ‘what the hell did these brands expect?’

Havas and other advertising giants have, to much fanfare and applause, pulled budgets from Google’s coffers. Many of them have sat upon magnificent ivory towers and pointed the finger at everyone other than themselves for putting their client’s reputations in jeopardy.

But what if no one noticed? What if people ignored the big beautiful McDonalds logo next to a video of someone happy slapping an unsuspecting victim outside of a Pound Shop in Ipswich? Would the noble council of elders at Havas have still ensured that their fee earning media buying practices were brought to an abrupt halt? Would they bollocks.

The issue here is not just Google’s advertising policies, which undoubtedly need an overhaul, but the whole approach to programmatic advertising and pay and spray tactics that have been adopted by big brands and advertising agencies alike.

I remember in the early years of programmatic advertising that there was whitelisting technology available that allowed organisations to select only the publications and keywords they wanted to be associated with. I believe now, this has been scaled to also incorporate video channels on YouTube, where media planners can select a list of safe channels for advertising.

It seems that going through just that simple procedure is all too much hassle for organisations looking to fart their brand or clients out to as many people as possible.

It’s far easier to chuck Google a truck load of cash and hope for the best. After all, if it goes tits up (a video title that I am sure exists and is almost certainly unknowingly being sponsored by a major brand) then at least you have a scapegoat that can afford the legal fees.

Once again, technology is not at fault here. Yes, Google executives should hang their head in shame that they’ve not allowed legitimate LGBT YouTube channels to be accessed by advertisers, but, in turn have let the dollars pour in for some pretty vile and ugly content.

But a good dose of the shame should be shared by the planners and media buyers who’ve been haphazard with client’s money and the final chunk of humble pie should be consumed by the in-house marketing execs who were probably more interested in the click-through rates than their brand’s reputation.

It’s certainly not all Google’s fault. It might just be yours.

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