When Negative Topics Take Over the Web
Tiger Woods' story can be looked on as an example of negative-toned events taking over the Web. As a news reader, it is hard to avoid. For advertisers hyper-sensitive about brand safety, how do you avoid getting served on the pages of negative stories like this.
We operate in an ecosystem involving ad networks, exchanges, user-generated content and everything in between, where simple triggers can take your brand to the exact place you don't want to be. Even though there are safeguards for brands driven by technology tools, it's worth keeping in mind this checklist when events like this threaten to dominate online content, and you have the urge to run as far away from it as possible:
1) Publishers -- time to rethink your publishing partners, even if it's just temporary. If entertainment and news sites are in your media plans, you probably have some tolerance for this type of news. However, enough may be enough and overexposure with negative stories can cause unnecessary grief. These sites are in hyper-creation mode, churning out stories, rumors and gossip to feed a hungry base of readers, fans and gawkers. Do you take a wholesale approach and block out everybody? If not, does your ad network or ad-serving partners evaluate the risk on individual publishers? Can they proactively block certain pieces of content?
2) Sentiment -- There's no need to guard against every single negative story on the Web, you need to measure or gauge how bad things are getting. If Tiger stories are negative, are writers talking about his golf career or his marriage? For advertisers that don't want the blanket approach, it's important for marketers to understand the variances in online content related to these series of events. It is also important to decide whether or not they will use content sentiment as a guide for media buying decisions.
3) Keywords and related Topics -- the Tiger brand used to be exclusively about winning, championships, golf, strength -- the good stuff. Now, people may interpret the brand as something completely opposite. Keep in mind the related topics around one particular subject, how those can quickly change in a short amount of time, and how those may possibly relate to a marketer's campaigns. Review the keywords you are buying. Scrutinize them to figure out the natural and unnatural connections you may have to the Tiger drama, so your brand doesn't get served on the many new pages of content that are popping up on this issue.
At the rate that this news cycle is spreading, marketers need to continue paying attention. Certain businesses will be happy to capitalize marketing spend because of these series of events, but I'd argue that many brand builders would rather not have their ads served alongside this type of content.
Just to be clear, this is not about Tiger Woods. This is about major events happening and the resulting chaos of digital media pages created to add more fuel to the fire. Brands should not be hindered by these type of negative events, and there are many opinions on brand safety issues and what the online ad industry needs to do to give greater control over the content on which advertisers appear. While we can't foresee or control unexpected and unfortunate situations like this, we can control the next steps to take if such event were to occur. Although we have come a long way, brands still have little control over the destination of their ads. Brands should be allowed to exclude content that does not meet their specific and bespoke communication requirements. These are the little things that hinder brand dollar investment on the Internet.