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Problematic programmatic


"Big brands funding terror” read the Times headline on 7th February. “Household names unwittingly pay extremist supporters as adverts dumped online”, it continued. Since then, several large brands have put an immediate halt to their online spending until they find out exactly where their money is going. And P&G, amongst other top advertisers, is calling for a major investigation into the murkier aspects of online advertising, including for example, whether all recorded views are indeed views or just a fake computer-generated ‘view’.

The internet has been a communications miracle. In a single generation it has transformed business and the way people interact with one another. It has opened up the potential for data to be used in ways unforeseen by its inventors. But it has also created problems, of which so-called ‘trolling’ is one particularly nasty example.

It seems also to have created problems in the world of advertising. The fact that brands that work hard to cherish and nurture their reputations with their users and the public at large should be tarnished by association with terrorism is a shocking by-product of an internet advertising boom that has seen Google and Facebook (in particular) carve out an enormous share of the market - at the expense, it must be admitted, of the established media.

They will need to clean up their act - and fast - if they are to avoid a furious backlash from advertisers large and small. Programmatic algorithms that track down the right target audience for advertisers are clever and effective, yet deeply flawed if they put much-loved FMCG brands on websites that promote murder and mayhem.

We at Canopy specialize in a much smaller part of the advertising ecosystem - print, and specifically inserts. They may have become in some eyes an old-fashioned solution, but they work and continue to provide creative opportunities for advertisers in newspapers and magazines with genuine integrity and standing. Given all of the above, that’s not such a bad place to be.

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