Display advertising and offensive content

Google’s Display Network allows companies to show text and visual ads across a vast network of websites. In recent months – especially in the wake of the 2016 US presidential race – companies have voiced their concern about the prospect of their display advertising showing up on controversial or offensive online properties.

A 2017 Times of London article showed those concerns were well-founded when it reported that YouTube and Display Network ads were being served side-by-side with extremist content. The news prompted some brands to boycott the display advertising platform.

“Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again,” and AT&T spokesperson was quoted as saying, “we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.”

In June, the CMO Council released its amusingly titled “How Brands Annoy Fans” survey, and found that offensive ad placements should sincerely worry companies.

“The concern is that the sheer proximity to, or perceived association with, hateful, distressing or brand-contradictory content can undermine that brand, no matter how effective that ad is measured in isolation,” the CMO Council said.

Indeed, more than 37 per cent of the 2,000 survey respondents confirmed that seeing an ad placed beside objectionable content would change their perception of the advertising brand. A further 11 per cent said they would ‘boycott or not do business with that brand,’ and 9 per cent said they would ‘be vocal and complain or raise issues about this.’

As a Premier Google Partner All-Star Agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is familiar with the challenges sometimes posed by the diversity of Google’s Display Network. We work hard to ensure that our clients’ display advertising ads never appear on offensive websites and, when they do, we take necessary steps to have them removed. Digital marketing and online advertising are in a state of constant flux. New opportunities, technologies, and challenges present themselves on a monthly basis. It is the job of digital marketing agencies around the world to shape the online advertising landscape and ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for users.