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Why Your Brand Has a Transparency Problem—and What to Do About It

Mar 28, 2018 11:00:00 AM

brand transparency in advertising Pathmatics

Your brand has a problem. The only question is whether or not you know it.

In the last year, brands have faced a slow-burning crisis as they’ve seen their ads appear on racist or inappropriate sites and next to offensive content.

Your brand may have experienced something similar. Or, it could be happening to you now and you don’t even know.

Lack of transparency is to blame.

The supply chain is notoriously opaque. Good luck figuring out where your ads are being served by asking your partners. And if you can get your provider to actually act, then it’s time to quit advertising and retire on the millions you make selling that secret.

The damage done here is incalculable. Brands have spent millions and years establishing massive credibility and trust in their markets, only to see that work completely destroyed in a matter of moments because their ads appeared next to racist or bigoted content.

And the damage is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Nobody remembers all the times you communicated trust, class, and prestige. They remember the time your brand name appeared next to a post insulting minorities, genders, or groups.

Yet supply chain providers have failed to act fast enough. In fact, they’ve moved so slow to address the problem that brands are taking things into their own hands.

Take the example of JPMorgan Chase. The bank, reports Digiday, built its own algorithm to identify brand-safe sites where it could run its ads:

“The bank’s algorithm, developed internally by its programmatic and media-buying teams, plugs into YouTube’s application programming interface and uses 17 filters, including video count and topic, to sort safe channels to host its ads. Having that insight at their fingertips means the bank’s marketers are pulling away from the long tail of content on YouTube. After sifting through 5 million YouTube channels since October, JPMorgan Chase now runs its ads on around 3,000 channels that its algorithm deems safe.”

Lack of transparency hurts brands in the following ways:

  • It destroys brand equity. Showing up next to one racist message is enough to drain any amount of brand equity you’ve built up over the years. It also alienates customers and creates PR nightmares.
  • It ruins your effectiveness. If you don’t even know what websites you’re appearing on, how strategic can you say your ads really are? Visibility has real business value.
  • It hides all manner of waste. Hiding behind lack of visibility are tons of middlemen who are skimming off the top of your ad spend, but providing little value in return. Seeing the path your ads take from purchase to placement can save you money.

So, what do you do about it?

Marketing and advertising teams are being held more accountable than ever. In a very real way, jobs are on the line.

One option is to create your own internal system, like JPMorgan, to protect the brand. This is admirable and advisable, but it takes time. What can you do now?

One solution is: Get more visibility into where your ads appear.

That’s easier than you might think when you use a tool like Pathmatics.

Pathmatics will show you exactly which sites your ads appear on. For instance, if I’m Apple, I can use Pathmatics to identify where my ads appear, which ad buys are indirect, and which sites my indirect purchases appear on.

I can also click into any site and see the paths my ad took to get there.

In one action, I can determine where my ads appear—and who sits in the middle between purchase and placement.

It’s that easy. And it’s all in real-time, so marketers and advertisers can monitor and protect their brand every single day.

See how Pathmatics works here.

Ken Roberts

Written by Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts has been immersed in marketing and technology for over a decade, merging creative strategies with the latest technology, to bring products together with the people who need them. With degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and an MBA, Ken’s background in product management, marketing, sales, analytics and technology lends to his ability to attack product challenges on multiple levels. Ken began his career developing software solutions for medical records before transitioning to marketing. Ken focused on building marketing departments and operating in-house agencies. Ken’s experience with digital platforms, internet based marketing, lead scoring and business intelligence, and reporting, as well as a keen market understanding, are a welcome addition to Pathmatics, only matched by a leadership philosophy that encourages high creativity and ownership from his team.

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