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From content is king to context is king

21 March 2017 Natasha Joseph

As HSBC, RBS, L’Oréal, Channel 4 and even the UK government pull their ads from Google, the seemingly infallible giant is being rightly challenged on issues concerning ad distribution. As the world’s most influential brands realise their messages may well have been compromised by the medium, issues of trust and neglect have been raised. Is the question of context becoming as important as that of content?

Google appears to be concerned in retrospect rather than having any real foresight on this issue. Their ‘Do first, deal with the repercussions later’ attitude is one that has clearly backfired. Despite their assurances that this related to a “handful of impressions” and that the sums involved were “pennies not pounds” – this is clearly doing little to allay brands’ fears.

What this damaging glitch has really highlighted is the challenge of advertising in a world of exploding content – a world where advertisers often have little visibility of which content their brand is actually being associated with – through placement, environment or otherwise. As YouTube points out, this is a new world order driven by volume: 400 hours of videos are uploaded onto YouTube EVERY MINUTE – so it’s no real surprise that they have been caught out for their inability to proactively police all the content on all of their platforms.

Surely the curating technology now exists to avoid reputations being tarnished through unwanted associations? A focus now on extreme measures, not extremist slip ups is in order…

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