4 mins

There’s a conspiracy afoot online! Recently, huge brands such as Amazon, Asos, Nike, and Ted Baker have been affected by algorithms allowing their adverts to appear on sites spreading Covid misconceptions. 

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that these companies were profiting off of adverts linked to sites that were falsely claiming news surrounding the pandemic. 

The reliance on algorithmic pairing for ads and site placement is the norm for most brands with an online presence. However, with such a wide web of sites to throw the net over, it’s likely some placings end up on dodgy pages unnoticed. 

The buying and selling of ad impressions are instantaneous when using Real-Time Bidding methods, leading to less monitored sites popping up in the auctions from time to time. 

For example, adverts for Amazon Pharmacy were popping up on over 30 websites associated with fake news regarding Covid. Additionally, ads for NHS Diabetes appeared on sites promoting anti-vaccine articles.  

These issues will only rise higher in concern as more people flock to Google to advertise. Insider Intelligence reported that ad spending increased by 12.7% last year, with an increase of 20.4% this year, most likely due to the “stuck inside all the time” pandemic.     

With RTB being the most popular way to advertise online, issues surrounding questionable ad placements will continue until something changes. Such as…

Google & The Ad Algorithm 

Google is a pivotal player in the advertising world, so when issues arise concerning its algorithm, everyone will take notice. Not only were a significant number of companies negatively represented online due to the misplacement of their ads, but additionally, ads appeared on more than just one Covid-conspiracy website. 

Responding to the previously mentioned investigation, a Ted Baker spokesperson stated: “The location of these adverts is driven by the Google Display Network. We can confirm that we have worked with Google to resolve this issue and that our adverts will not appear on these specific sites in the future.” 

That may seem all-well-and-good for a massive institution like Ted Baker, but who’s looking out for the little guys? We can’t all get in touch with Google that easily, so what can we do independently to secure our ads are in all the right places?

Some Tips and Tricks

The online world is riddled with cookie crumbling, privacy policies, and algorithm adjustments. Brand safety has never been more essential for marketers. 

It’s time to get read up on ad exclusion placements for your campaign. Google Ads Help has a support page (which you can view here) all about how you can monitor where your ads are ending up, including an automated scheduling system to lessen the workload.  

Managing your Google Display Network and excluding certain websites has several additional benefits too. For example, you’ll be saving money on ad spend. Don’t waste money on websites that lack leads and spread negativity; aim for those professionally made pages that are credible, well received, and certified.

Be prepared. Be the best. 

Reagan Macdonald, the Director of Public Policy at Mozilla, told The Guardian: “We know the ad ecosystem is incredibly opaque. It’s almost like we’re not supposed to look under the hood. Because if you do, you find this mess. What I really hope is that this will be a sort of last straw for the brands.” 

Advertising online can’t be explained in one day (or post), but we can certainly start chipping away at the issues to make sure your brand is protected from pesky problems such as this one. 

As marketers, we have a responsibility to make sure our brands are presented positively across the internet. 

Need advice for managing your Google Ads? Want to gain insight into excluding certain websites from your RTB strategies? Contact our team of professionals now.  


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