Bad Contextual Advertising and Horse Meat

For several years my family and I have been making sushi at home. I buy the fresh ingredients, cook the sushi rice and everyone makes their own rolls and nigiri. It’s a fun Friday evening of chopping, eating and making a mess, and we definitely save some money.

In my quest to learn more about sushi preparation, I stumbled across a website listing sakura niku sushi, or raw horse meat. To my American palette, this sounds horrifying, but I am totally intrigued and follow the link. Displayed next to the photo of equine and rice is an ad for Spirit Mountain Casino’s fine dining options. The juxtaposition jumped off the page.

I immediately thought of my clients and their display campaigns. Have we chosen the correct negative keywords in the Google Adwords content network? When buying remnant ads through Yahoo’s Ad Ready platform, could we possibly be making the same mistake? This is something to seriously consider when talking to restaurant owners about their marketing.

This ad for Spirit Mountain Casino is perhaps the best of example of contextual advertising’s biggest shortcoming – placing your brand and reputation next to less than savory content. Whoever created the campaign did everything right by targeting foodie content in Portland.

We can buy these ad networks with similar targeting for less than $3.00 CPM, which is inexpensive in the branding world. The cost per impression cannot be beat, but control of the final placement is lost. This is an important reminder why buying ads directly from the publisher is often worth the increased cost. You avoid the horse meat.

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