‘Fear of the screenshot’: Candid thoughts of ad buyers at the Digiday Media Buying Summit

Buyers were gathered in Nashville this week for the Digiday Media Buying Summit. Conversations during sessions and during closed-door town halls were largely focused on client education, in-housing and brand safety. Edited highlights below.

Why brands don’t want to advertise alongside news
“There is now a question of the definition of news: what’s real and what’s fake? This started with Breitbart, and that’s where the question is.”

“We will run against news content. It’s about us finding the right audience. A lot of the keyword targeting doesn’t stick. For us, with what’s happening right now,  it’s not sticking. The articles are sometimes below the fold.”

“News of the day is the news. We can’t change that. So saying you can’t advertise on the news is to avoid reality. It’s incumbent on exchanges to do their jobs of whitelisting quality websites.”

“Brands don’t want to be near controversial issues or near any news. But the net of controversial issues has grown. The 24-hour news cycle means there’s always some kind of drama.”

Publishers need to do more
“In terms of news, what is going to have to happen is publishers need to have to do some work on their end. In many cases, they need to start working with writers to classify their stories. Most of the work is being done on our end, on the demand side.”

“We do have to have content tagging done in the article passed to the ad server so we can set up PMPs that will allow us to block specific keywords and types of articles. Publishers need to try. It’s the need to-do for publishers: to pass us your content tagging.”

The screenshot-industrial complex
“The thing is, tools like Grapeshot need articles to have a certain number of views before they can do anything, so God forbid the advertiser sees the one impression. So it’s about the screenshot.”

“We’re using a blunt instrument to block things. Even if someone were to set up a whitelist, it’s not clean.”

“Is there even any data showing if consumers see an ad near a piece of content they’re making a negative connection?”

“’Stay the hell away’ is the go-to feel.”

“All it takes is one letter from one person saying you were here. People are tweeting at advertisers. It’s fear of the screenshot.”

In-housing has led to agencies needing to pivot
“My team works mostly in social, and the biggest thing is Facebook making it easier for people to take it in-house.”

“As an agency, we’re now starting to work on a program where they have us on retainer to bounce their in-house ideas on us. It’s not ideal because it’s not scalable, but it’s the way to help us in this instance.”

“We’re also seeing it with big brands and with programmatic in-house. It’s happening because they read a couple articles someplace and then decide to do it. They’re then reaching out and asking us what DSPs we’re using. But clients are starting to see that everything is hard.”

“You’re seeing it at companies where they’re focused on direct-response. They have quick turnover at the CMO. and it’s coming from there; we need to control every aspect of the business. The bigger picture for all of us is this is inevitable when you digitize an ecosystem and commoditize its building blocks. Buyers are commoditized. As agencies, we need to look at the fact that buying inherently isn’t an advantage for us.”

“I fail to see a point at which an agency provides value with a self-service model.”

“Agencies that focus on their bottom lines and the CPMs they get do themselves a disservice.”

“With brands, they’re often out of touch with what’s going on. They’re focused on the politics and red tape inside their companies.”


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