Web Ad Nets Scrutinized As Brands Bail From Dodgy Sites

Online ad networks are coming under closer scrutiny in the UK as the press outs brands for advertising at controversial websites. BBC’s Panorama investigation, which this week criticized YouTube for refusing to police “happy slapping” videos, pointed the finger at companies like Peugeot and Carphone Warehouse, who were found to be advertising opposite such violent clips. In response, many brands had booted the advertising network responsible for placing their ads, the documentary said. Now Vodafone is reported to have pulled all its advertising from Facebook after being informed its ads were appearing on the group for the far-right British National Party (BNP). (In the UK, the BNP is largely shunned despite having some local elected politicians.) More companies are to follow suit, NMA says, and Virgin Media has done the same. The problem is ad networks that don’t sufficiently discriminate when allowing web publishers to place ads (advertisers may be complicit in their ignorance, but the finger ultimately points at the silent middlemen). The solution is for brands to demand those networks refine their systems to offer more control over the destination of their campaigns.