Reputation risk is where you publish

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By Rupert Hodson, CEO

Digital marketing is now well into its adolescence, having disrupted traditional media, advertising and publisher models, but its next stage of evolution will surely be advertisers and clients becoming ever more sensitive to context and real value of what they say and do online. Governance I predict will become increasingly significant for platforms, especially in the highly regulated industries in financial services. As anyone who has watched the alarming film “The Great Hack”, there’s ever growing concerns about privacy and “fake news” that is increasingly top of mind.

Our business at Dianomi now works with over 350 business and financial publishers around the world. They rely on us to be served reliable and fair advertisers and we in turn rely on them that the content is placed respectfully and in the right locations on their sites. As such any placed content or advertisements we operate for clients only ever appear in positions that are contextually relevant and that the message sources are quickly identifiable. The future success of placed content is becoming increasingly complex, as the boundaries blur from what was once advertising, to advertorial to news. I believe strong publisher brands have a vital role to play in safeguarding quality and integrity of reporting, narratives and advertising.

Since we founded Dianomi in 2003, we’ve watched some digital developments with growing anxiety. Piers and I have sat on panels worried about “programmatic advertising”, where advertisements are served to people’s own websites, irrespective of where they may be searching and visiting on the internet. Some of this feels innately discourteous, like stalking and although cost metrics might show such ads reach their audience, it is hard not to think that brands risk reputations by ads and messages appearing in the wrong locations. Running investment ads when I am searching say for a recipe on a food site feels just wrong and out of place. And increasingly, the idea of your computer watching your own moves and behaviours disturbingly can feel lacking users consent or permission.

In order to safeguard brands, firms increasingly need to ensure their content is clearly flagged as to the type of communication it is that is being served. Likewise, the objectives of marketing activity operate best when clear; ads can be superb traffic builders to client websites, insightful copy on its own can lift a brand’s credibility. Expecting both results from one activity might confuse the objectives of each.

I think Piers Currie of Warhorse Partners is right that metrics of digital against marketing success still has some catching up to do. The misattributed quote of Albert Einstein: “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation” is surely still so true. As we evolve into the next generation of users, understanding the right measures of how we balance both brilliantly will be the recurring challenge.

This article was originally published by Warhorse Partners.