Do You Know Where Your Ads Are Running?

Let's be careful with those network pay-for-performance deals, folks.

Without naming names, apparently there are a few ad networks that think it acceptable to re-book client ads with unapproved websites that are not formally affiliated with their network. This may get the network credit for a few incremental clicks or leads, but it also can result in a very ticked-off client if they happen to see their ads running with websites they're not comfortable supporting.

There are quite a few direct response advertisers that don't much care where their ads run, as long as they're getting the requisite response. However, certain ad networks apparently need to be reminded that "one size fits all" does not necessarily apply across the industry. Although advertisers may be paying on a performance basis, there may be certain affiliations with their respective brands that would be deemed unacceptable.

I've worked on several pieces of business that were direct response-oriented, yet needed to watch their brand affiliations carefully. In most of those cases, ads appearing on a porn site or anywhere else that was not directly approved by the client would result in the agency losing the account. I've also had several instances in which a client called me at the agency, inquiring about an ad they came across on a network site and asking me whether or not it was part of the plan. Thankfully, in each of those cases, we had sought approval on a site-by-site basis and not on a network basis, so nothing required a lengthy investigation. Clients don't like curveballs.



Many times, however, agencies sign an insertion order with a network and do not approve affiliated sites on a case-by-case basis. This is where the trouble can start. Some networks can interpret a network insertion order as an open invitation to cut whatever deals necessary to bring in clicks or leads, even if that means running activity on sites that have no formal affiliation with the network.

I think that we can all agree that whether or not a network deal is open-ended should be specified in the terms of an insertion order. Perhaps the solution is to add a sheet detailing approved network affiliates, along with legal language specifying whether or not the deal is open-ended or not.

Whatever the case, I think agencies need to pay more attention to where networks are running their ads. Network reps should also do a better job of managing the expectations of their clients, disclosing all potential areas where a client ad might run and giving the client the opportunity to reject specific affiliates. Otherwise, situations may arise in which a client ends up affiliating with an inappropriate media venue, which can generate complaints, slashed ad budgets and blacklisting.

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