How Important Is Your Ad’s Environment?
March 28, 2017
For decades, radio stations have been beaten up because advertisers did not like the “environment” that surrounded their ad message. In the ‘70s and ‘80s many advertisers did not want their message associated with rock music. In the ‘90’s they stayed away from hip hop. Now, many advertisers are staying away from talk programs, not because their audience is wrong, but because they’re afraid to be associated with the station’s content.
- Is it fair?
- Is it right?
- Does it really matter?
- Do advertisers want to be associated with the audience that likes that format?
Only the advertiser can answer these questions. Is it more important to reach the right audience in a cost-efficient manner, or are you willing to pay a premium for the “right environment.”
While this has, and continues to be, an issue with radio, it is a bigger issue in the digital space. The explosion of cheap, “well-targeted” programmatic systems has made this a bigger issue. According to a January 8th New York Times article, “How to Starve Online Hate,” American companies now spend $22 billion per year with programmatic advertising. While an advertiser’s message may be hitting the designated target, do they know the environment in which their ad is being displayed? This applies to a simple programmatic buy and also to a sophisticated retargeting campaign.
Problems have recently come to the forefront, as many advertisers were unaware that their messages were being displayed on controversial websites. While it is now easy to avoid pornographic websites, it has become extremely difficult to avoid sites whose political and social views may be seen as outside the mainstream. For example, sites that praise white supremacy or the overthrow of our government are now often displaying general market commercial ads. While there is nothing technically wrong with advertisers knowingly doing this, much of the time it’s occurring without the advertiser’s knowledge or explicit consent. To further complicate the issue, these sites are being paid by the advertisers for the opportunity to display the ads.
Recently several advertisers have had to apologize for their ads being displayed on sites that their consumers did not agree with from a moral standpoint.
To be clear, there is nothing illegal, and even in some people’s view morally wrong, with advertising on controversial websites. However, we at Research Director, Inc. believe that the environment of an advertising message is extremely important, whether it is digital, radio, TV, or any other media outlet. Each individual advertiser needs to make that decision. All we ask is that they be consistent. Don’t treat radio differently. Make sure you are getting the environment that is right for you, your message, and your company’s reputation.
-Charlie Sislen, Partner