Advertisers seek mobile ad alternatives after countless social media scandals

By Filippo Gramigna, VP Partnerships & Platform Sales, Widespace


Just days after Facebook was criticised for allowing images and videos of paedophilia to appear on its network the social media giant was slammed again for allowing a murder in the US to be recorded and posted on its site.

Facebook is not alone in coming under attack for publishing inappropriate and often illegal material. Google and Twitter were also grilled recently by politicians on the Home Affairs Committee.

There is a fear that such bad publicity might deter companies from investing in mobile advertising because they worry their brands will appear alongside unsuitable content.

Brand safety is, rightly so, a huge consideration for advertisers. One dilemma for marketers and their media agencies is that Facebook and Google have cultivated what is effectively a duopoly when it comes to monetising mobile.

Advertisers demand quality mobile inventory and Facebook and Google have obliged by investing in innovative and appealing ad formats.

The reality, however, is consumers do not spend all their time with Facebook and Google content. This means there are huge opportunities for other publishers that can provide high quality inventory and help advertisers reach their target audiences while protecting brand reputations.

It’s all about the data

Alternative brand safe ways of advertising on mobile are available but there needs to be a change in mind-set around what data is required to reliably target consumers in this space.

Whilst Facebook and Google may have log-in data that allows them to measure cross-device use, they struggle to track cookies from outside their ecosystem.

Advertisers should therefore consider expanding their targeting pool into cookie-less environments such as apps or iOS. Publishers should also be looking to partner with people who enable them to do this to stay ahead of the competition.

For example, at Widespace we offer our Reach Amplifier which extends the reach of mobile campaigns by identifying ad interest twins from an advertisers primary target, without syncing cookies.

Creativity is crucial

For mobile to become a successful medium for brand-led advertising, an increase in creativity within formats is required.

This can be tricky if an advertiser does not have its own in-house/external agency to create the sparkling ads and content that will get them noticed. Traditional publishers can assist here too because they have the expertise to create rich media ads and native content that will help brands cut through on mobile.

Advertisers want to know that publishers are investing in their own infrastructure and have an app and a mobile responsive website.

Technology support

Publishers are being advised to work in an automated guarantee format, for example, rather than throwing traffic into an open marketplace which can devalue their inventory. They are also being encouraged to split their inventory into three tiers for advertisers: direct sales, programmatic sales and then the open marketplace. Technology partners can help guide publishers through these decisions.


It is possible that, as with Google, there could be a public and advertiser backlash against Facebook if it is unwilling to tighten its community standards.

These values are supposed to restrict the appearance of offensive material.  However, there is growing criticism that the guidelines are not strict enough and that too much offensive content is appearing, which is fuelling worries over brand safety.

Facebook faces a challenge because new forms of media, such as live video, provide lucrative advertising opportunities but can make it harder to remain within the law.  Politicians are getting tough and advertisers are getting twitchy following the negative publicity in recent weeks.

Facebook and Google are conscious they need to protect their own reputations as well as the good name of their advertisers, but questions will continue to be asked.

It is time for brands to look more closely at partnering with other publishers that offer the brand safe quality mobile advertising inventory that they and their shareholders desire.