There’s no doubt the internet has opened up many more opportunities for businesses to advertise their services.

As well as traditional outlets such as local newspapers or trade publications, organisations may now opt to promote themselves via sites such as Facebook or Google.

But while online packages can often provide greater flexibility, their sheer size can also pose potential risks that it is important for businesses to be aware of.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight a couple of months ago, when some of the UK’s biggest brands announced that they would be pulling advertisements from YouTube.

The video-sharing platform has become an increasingly tempting proposition for businesses, not surprising given that almost five billion videos are watched every day.

The reason for so many big-name advertisers deciding to boycott the site was a sudden flurry of adverse publicity about adverts that were being attached to some less than attractive content.

An investigation by The Times newspaper found that paid-for promotions for companies including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and the BBC were running in front of footage posted by a number of controversial or extreme groups. Predictably the associations didn’t sit comfortably with the companies concerned and they cancelled their campaigns until they could get assurances a fix had been found.

Google, which owns YouTube, subsequently apologised for the unfortunate pairings and said it would work to improve the computer algorithms which help determine which content adverts are allocated to.

While you shouldn’t be scared off digital platforms, it is certainly important to make sure that online adverts are properly set up to give the best chance of content reaching the target audience and reducing the risk of it appearing in some less than desirable – or otherwise useless – places. A number of MPs have recently been embarrassed after some of their election adverts begun appearing on the Facebook feeds of people living on the other side of the country to the constituency they were actually fighting for!

Specifying the age, gender and locations you want to target and including key words where possible will ensure you get the most out of your campaign.

Categories: Blog