You might have seen the article in the Times recently which revealed that reputable brands have unwittingly funded extremists and pornographers by advertising on their websites and social medical channels.  Google Adwords allow you to target people searching for your brand-relevant keywords, this is why it can be quite costly – you can pay as much as £70 per click for some legal related business terms.

But what if you want to target people who are casually browsing different sites on the web and don’t necessarily know your brand or that they need it? This is when you turn to Display advertising, Facebook advertising and other content marketing channels. The two significant benefits are: it’s a whole lot cheaper than keyword-targeted advertising, and your ads are put in front of an enormous audience – potentially tens of millions of people from all corners of the globe, if you wish. The one downside is that your targeting isn’t as precise as keyword specific advertising and the audience may not be as high a quality.

Don’t believe the writing on the tin

The technologies behind the latest ad formats and delivery mechanisms is complex. For example, ‘programmatic bidding’ is now a common practice which determines the ad placement in real time by following a set of complex bidding algorithms. This is why you rely on professional ad agencies to manage all ad process on your behalf.

It works most of the time, though occasionally it leaves you and your brand exposed to the bad, dark and ugly side of the Internet. Perhaps it is wise to conduct regular due diligence to check where your ads are shown.

  • Make sure your ad agency can conduct due diligence to ensure that it places ads on appropriate website and for intended audience.
  • Conduct your own due diligence to check what the ad agency is telling you is accurate.

As Mark Twain said “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable”. So be careful and don’t believe everything you are told.

It’s down to you

Ultimately, the responsibility is down to your company, as it is your Brand reputation at stake.

Verifying your ad outreach is not an entirely arduous task. Depending on the access your ad provider or agency gives you, reports are available that show what sites your ads are placed on. It’s called a ‘placement report’ which will shows the web addresses (URLs) of the website that carried your ad. If you have video ads on YouTube, you can get a similar report from YouTube based on the ‘Channel’ the ad was shown on.

All ad providers (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc) usually make statements to the effect that they hold certain standards and values sacrosanct and make every effort to ensure inappropriate material doesn’t appear on their site – but it still does.

It’s a never ending battle these companies have with ‘inappropriate’ websites, because often it requires human intervention to deal with. YouTube, for example, has 300 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day, it is a challenge for them to screen and filter out all inappropriate material (material your ads could get shown against), let alone watching over all the ad placements.

You shouldn’t underestimate the potential these ‘channels’ have to inflict considerable damage on your brand’s reputation, if left unchecked. Some of the terrorist channels identified in the past on YouTube received several million hits in a relatively short period of time. Your ads could have been shown on them during that time.

With around 1billion mobile video views per day on YouTube, don’t play ‘Russian Roulette’ with your Brand when it comes to online advertising. Conduct regular due diligence checks on your advertisement placement process. As an international due diligence company, Blackhawk Intelligence can help you to minimise your risk and exposure.

Concerned? Call Blackhawk today.

Article Name

Is your brand inadvertently funding the terrorists?


You might have seen the article in the Times recently which revealed that reputable brands have unwittingly funded extremists and pornographers by advertising on their websites and social medical channels.

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