Inappropriate Ad Placement: An Attack on Programmatic Job Advertising?

Peter Weddle

Chris Forman, Founder & CEO of Appcast

Last week, JPMorgan Chase hit the news headlines when it announced that it was pulling its display ads from around 395,000 websites, in response to those ads appearing next to “toxic” content like fake news sites or controversial YouTube videos. The news has alarmed marketers, many of whom suggest it should serve as a wake-up call to advertisers about their reliance on programmatic advertising technology to reach consumers.

At its most basic level, programmatic is the science of using software to cost-effectively target consumers across the web based on their browsing habits – enabling, say, a hyper-targeted ad to show up on niche blog site or alongside a shopping cart. For job advertisers, programmatic is fast becoming an important part of the recruiting media mix, capable of vastly improving the efficacy of job ads and the return on advertising spend.

Despite these benefits, some implementations of programmatic technology have become highly controversial, at least in the consumer advertising space. That’s because the platforms used to buy and place ads aren’t especially brand sensitive. Algorithms simply place ads before consumers wherever those consumers browse, work and play. Often, there’s a conflict between the brand image the advertiser wants to project and the sites where their target audience hangs out, and it’s simply not possible to vet thousands of sites for each campaign.

Could the same “toxic content” problem happen in the job space? Possibly, although it isn’t part of the job advertising ecosystem just yet. Compared to the consumer advertising space, programmatic for job advertising is still in its nascency. Most recruitment-focused programmatic technologies are designed to optimize job advertisements on legitimate job sites. Where non-job site programmatic advertising exists, it tends to be focused on search and social ad users rather than display advertising. This dramatically decreases the likelihood of the ads showing up in inappropriate places.

Let’s be clear: JPMorgan’s experience is a cautionary tale. We know that advertisers don’t want their ads appearing next to content that doesn’t align with their values. Everyone who is building programmatic technology in the job space should be wise to the risks of neglecting brand safety, and vigilant in ensuring that bad ad placements don’t make it into the system.

Organizations like TAtech are important in raising the bar and building protocols for best practices in this type of recruitment advertising. We all have to be more hands on in the pursuit of quality.

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