Friday, March 24, 2017

The Dark Side of Digital Advertising

An increasingly hot topic is that there are numerous well-known brands inadvertently funding Islamic extremists, white supremacists, and pornographers through their web-based advertising.

The Times of UK discovered that ads for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Thomson Reuters, Liverpool university, Argos, and even charities, were showing up on hate sites and YouTube videos created by supporters of hate groups...which is generating thousands and thousands of dollars for the extremists.  For instance, on YouTube, there was recently seen a commercial for the new E-Class Mercedes running next to a pro-Isis video, which has been viewed 115k times...a Jaguar ad was also seen to run next to the video.  Sandals Resorts have found their ads next to a video promoting al-Shabaab, the East African jihadist group.

The list goes on...While Google has taken these videos down after being alerted, programmatic advertising has enabled agencies to track customers around the web, and then show them advertisements on whichever website they are browsing.  This leads to the unfortunate incidents of ads being shown in places the parent company would not want their product to be seen.

This has become an increasingly challenging issue, and it remains to be seen whether the big advertising agencies can self-monitor where their client's ads end up being displayed.

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