Coordinating PR and Marketing to Avoid Unwise Ad Placement and Reputation Damage

With the explosion of misinformation and an increasingly frenetic news cycle, it's important for marketers to know the exact location of their ads. And, if you're buying ads programmatically (see definition chart below), it can be difficult to know exactly where they'll run.

Compound that with an uptick in organizations’ mishaps going viral on social and the rise of industry watchdogs, and companies may face a reputation hit if their ads are poorly targeted or news events render them inappropriate.

A recent study from ad verification company Integral Ad Science (IAS) says 42 percent of digital-media experts worry about how advertising alongside misinformation could damage a company's reputation. From the same study, 45 percent say ads adjacent “to content unsuitable for a brand” is their biggest quality concern.

Yet the definition of unsuitable content differs from company to company. Only some marketers reevaluate their blocklists and ad spending after major news events.

“You just know putting things on CNN, Fox News, or any sort of potentially politicized a higher risk," says Brad Chase, founder at Seattle-based communications firm Chase Global.

He adds, "So, unless your product is clearly targeted and you’ll never be in the wrong," marketers should consider if the return is strong enough that it’s worth the risk of alienating people.

Anthony Barranco, North American digital media lead at HP, says,“Content adjacency is certainly something we bake into our planning.” He concedes there's risk associated with advertising on news sites with a political stance.


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