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Keeping a lid on networked ads

I saw a survey the other day that showed the majority of computer games enthusiasts thought that advertising in games spoiled the experience, and that they thought negatively of the advertiser as a result. Now, there will be few (if any) of us here who are advertising inside computer games, but this should remind us that the location of our advertising matters. Machine algorithms such as Google’s can measure successful adverts, while defining all others as failures without assessing that failure qualitatively.

For example, if an automated system placed our blue widget adverts on Blue Widget World’s website, it would be reasonable to predict that even when the adverts didn’t ‘convert’ to enquiries, they wouldn’t have annoyed anybody. At worst, they’d have been just a no-cost placement that failed. However, there are other websites where the advert could have got a successful conversion from one viewer, while irritating others (for whatever reason).

That’s why we’re always wary of letting systems such as Google Ads’ display network place our adverts wherever they like, based solely on ‘what’s working’. The numbers for most small B2B advertisers are low enough that freak successes may have a proportionally oversized impact. We’re happy to let the machines try out different placements for our ads initially, but in the long term we try to keep things limited to the sites that we approve of.