Ad Technology

Protecting Your Brand Through Programmatic

By: Amanda Fiore

Programmatic advertising is a growing phenomena, accounting for more and more advertising dollars than ever before. Because of its precise targeting capabilities through demographic, contextual and behavioral targeting, and automated nature allowing for efficiencies, it is no surprise programmatic ad campaigns are on the rise.

However, media companies need to be aware of the fine print associated with programmatic advertising to avoid putting the brand’s reputation at risk. We are all aware of the Times of London investigation which revealed that some major brands’ ads were appearing on sites promoting hate and alongside YouTube videos created by extremist groups. This brought some of the quality control issues associated with programmatic to light.

Media companies need to be aware of the nuances associated with programmatic advertising to help ensure that client ads are placed in safe environments, alongside appropriate content and protect brand reputation, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical advertising.

The pharmaceutical industry is regulated more than most other industries, which sometimes makes it difficult for marketers to run automated programmatic campaigns. A mistep could not only cause brand embarrassment but possibly violate FDA law. Laws like HIPPA prohibit pharmaceutical companies to use first-party data to link identifiable people to their medical conditions and history. This effects the way that pharma advertisers can target, as they cannot target an individual based on their condition, they must focus on contextual targeting via programmatic advertising to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. To sum it up, the content can be targeted, but the individual cannot be.

In addition, regulatory departments at individual pharmaceutical corporations may have their own set of legal guidelines specific to a brand that the media partner will need to abide by. For example, ensuring that a brand’s ad does not appear along content that is considered a side effect of that drug or does not appear along condition content that the drug does not treat.

There are a few solutions pharma marketers can take to control for the placement and environment a client ad appears against. Clients and their media company can agree upon specific white and black URL lists. URLs on the client’s whitelist are essentially pre-approved websites that the ad can appear on while the blacklist contains untrustworthy URLS that the ad cannot appear on. These white and black lists help control for the environment in which the ad can run. Clients can also take it one step further by establishing white and black keyword lists which help refine targeting and ad placement. For example, if a brand would like to appear on pages that discuss obesity they can assign that term to the keyword whitelist. But if they do not want to appear on pages with content around childhood obesity, they can assign that to the keyword blacklist.

Media companies can also explore and utilize semantic targeting technology, which provides a page level analysis of content and context of a page. This continuous page monitoring helps to identify inappropriate content on the page, while also calling out speech nuances and sentence and word definition on a page. This targeting technology can even get deep enough to identify emotional and sentiment targeting, for example what will the reader be feeling when they read this? This page level targeting allows a brand to have a full understanding of the page content before placing the ad on it.

With the proper preparation, and a constant dialogue with the client, you can ensure that your programmatic ads appear on the sites you want, and don’t end up living in a space opposite to the brand.