The global digital advertising industry is estimated to be $600 billion and growing. While Facebook and other social media sites are popular for advertising, much of the campaign spend dedicated to the internet is distributed across millions of websites and apps, and there’s little oversight and moderation from the adtech companies that monetize them. As advertisers handed off day-to-day operations to a bewilderingly complex digital advertising supply chain, companies often don’t know where their ads are ending up — including on sites that spew disinformation and hate-speech. This represents an acute reputational risk at a time when consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on personal values and brand associations. Companies need to take three steps: check your ad campaigns, avoid brand safety technology, and demand cash refunds.
How much of your company’s ad budget funds disinformation? You might believe the answer to be “none.” After all, most reputable brands don’t actively seek to run ads alongside conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, and troll farms. Unfortunately, that’s no guarantee. If you’re not routinely auditing your programmatic ad buys or partnering directly with the websites you want to run ads on, it’s highly likely that — by default — your brand is directly contributing to the disinformation economy.