Google Caught Pimping Brands on Porn Sites
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Google Caught Pimping Brands on Porn Sites

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AdNews – More major brands have been caught buying online ad space on soft porn sites as pressure mounts on Google to declare its hand on the commercial use of this content across its online advertising network.

Google has also been using such websites to promote free trial advertising offers, sharing the same pages with ANZ savings accounts, ANZ business credit cards and GE Money ads – all these campaigns have appeared in the past week. They join Westpac, Coles and Sony who have also been advertising in online environments packed full of nudity, partly as a result of the push by major corporates to demand cheap online inventory through non-premium websites.

Westpac and Sony immediately withdrew parts of their online advertising schedules last week after AdNewspresented screenshots of their brands placed in online environments bursting with raunchy and unusual pictures.

Telstra and HSBC were also found to be advertising on a file-sharing site which could facilitate illegal content downloading. Although TVLinks was compliant with standards from the Internet Advertising Standards House (iAsh), the ad network responsible for the site, Adconion, pulled it from its list immediately.

The ongoing appearance of major brands on these sites is escalating as media agencies realise it may not just be due to rogue operators or an occasional glitch. Google has gone to ground on some issues but media agencies are pressing the online giant.

“Google sets the benchmark and standards and is an influential player in the market,” UM chief executive Mat Baxter said. “You expect them to get it right. If it’s true and Google is not getting it right, it brings more gravitas to the issue for the whole market.”

The managing director of ANZ’s online buying agency emitch, Matthew Crook, said the company was investigating and expected compensation for ANZ.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of it right now,” Crook told AdNews. “We are speaking to all our major ad network partners. I’m in discussions with Google. They guarantee all their sites are iAsh compliant and that these sorts of sites will not be utilised. We’re going through the process of who is responsible and seeking adequate compensation.”

Google would not comment at the time of publishing about its own advertising policy which has seen it use sites called “Plunder Media” – with sections which include “Plunder Girls” and “Top 20 Japanese Girls” – to promote “a $75 free Google advertising trial”. These are the sites which ANZ and GE Money have appeared on with Google.

It did release a statement minutes from publishing: “Google understands that brand protection is, and always has been, critical for the industry and for online marketers. We are laser-focused on creating a safe environment and give ad buyers granular control over the sites to which they target  ads – for example they can exclude specific sites, all anonymous sites, categories they do not want to appear on, or they can limit their ads to top 1000 sites. We don’t comment on specific sites, but if a site violates our policies about inappropriate content, whether intentional or not, we take quick action and stop serving ads to that site.” The company would not elaborate.

The chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Paul Fisher, said the industry body had already started the process of establishing a set of standards covering this area but it did highlight the decision advertisers must make between low price and transparency in their online advertising schedules.

“The reality is should agencies being buying on sites for clients if they don’t know where that inventory is going to fall?” Fisher said.

“Blind ad networks have a place in the ecosystem but the reality is if you are concerned about your brand needing 100% transparency on where your inventory falls, it might not be right. If you were just looking for cheap inventory and a degree of risk then blind networks would be ok. The industry needs to put some best practice around this. We’ve found some standards from the US and UK and we’re looking at localising them.”

Written by Pace Lattin

Pace Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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