The media world is having a major discussion regarding how some major brands have pressed the pause button to their ad spend on certain media vehicles. This is on account of their ads being placed alongside objectionable content.
The arguments and counter arguments evoked memories of what my mentor used to say while I was planning campaigns during my early days in the industry. He used to say that a brand is known by its associations.
In those days when digital was just making its presence felt and television was the primary vehicle for advertisers, ratings were one of the primary criteria for scheduling TV spots. While planning a campaign, he always used to insist on the need to get a good understanding of the content of the various series before deciding on the spot schedule.
TV soaps that did not stand for values were a strict no, even if it had high ratings. His point was very simple. As a brand custodian, it is our responsibility to ensure the brand is only associated with vehicles that will enhance the image.
Anything that will affect the brand value should be shunned and total care should be exercised to ensure that it is not impacted in a negative manner. Today, I see a similar situation in the digital and social media sphere. It is heartening to note many marketers have decided to move in this direction.
It goes without saying that advertisers should have control over where their ads are going to be placed. And when steps are being taken to scrub clean the content through scrutiny of their subject matter, it gives the much needed confidence to advertisers who have hit the pause button on spend.
Many brand strategists will vouch for the fact that it is important to have a brand — media fit. The traditionalists will now go one step further and reiterate the fact that it is equally important to have a strong brand — content fit.
And that’s why the media vehicles in question have seriously started taking a re-look at the dynamics that are in place now. It is understood that new filters are being put in place that advertisers can apply to their campaigns. More important is to find way a way to ensure that clean content is provided.
Taking the current uncertainty into consideration, many mainstream media vehicles that were marginalised have woken up to capitalise on this and get back the share that moved away from them. TV channels as well as print media see a strong opportunity to bounce back since on these media vehicles it is easy for advertisers to control where their ads are placed.
Everyone is now looking for opportunities to take a bite out the pie that is kept in the limbo. The demand for those who provide clean content is bound to go up and soon we will see a flow of ad dollars to platforms that ensure quality content.
At a time when consumer loyalty is quite fickle, it is the responsibility of brand custodians to ensure their brand identity is not compromised. A consumer backlash on account of wrong placement will cause more harm to a brand.
It will take extra effort as well as higher media spend to recover lost ground and hence the choice of pause button is seen as the right decision at the moment. What is heartening to note is that the media vehicles affected the most have already initiated steps to find a way out the current predicament.
That’s what marketers need to be in the correct place and perceived in the right manner by their target audience.
The writer is with the advertising and communications agency Publilink.