My new column is live in The Drum:
Marketers rarely get what they pay for, the Gannett ad debacle was just the latest
Samuel Scott takes a look at the recent news that newspaper giant Gannett gave advertisers inaccurate information to advertisers on where their ads were running for nine months. He offers up advice to buyers wanting to protect themselves from similar problems.
Everything online should be considered fake until proven otherwise. Case in point, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that newspaper publisher Gannett “provided inaccurate information to advertisers for nine months, misrepresenting where billions of ads were placed”. Some companies thought they had bought inventory on USA Today’s website but instead found their ads on other Gannett-owned local outlets. Lesser titles.
By now, the many trials and tribulations of letting machines determine ad placements through programmatic advertising are well known. But what was specifically worrisome this time was the fact that independent researchers – and neither Gannett nor a third-party auditor – seemingly discovered the mistake first.
Gannett put it down to “a caching error” and said it “sincerely regrets inadvertently passing along the incorrect data parameter.”
The true lesson of Gannet’s advertising debacle is that marketers today need to reconsider everything that we see online – especially when comparatively little in digital advertising today is audited and verified compared to the traditional media world.
In this column, I will give examples that the industry should submit to Google, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and every adtech platform in general moving forward.