Why Donald Trump’s face keeps showing up on content ads
If it wasn’t enough that Donald Trump was dominating the news, he’s also popping up in ads hawking mortgage products.
Ads like the one to the right making false Trump claims have been showing up in content-recommendation engine Outbrain on sites including ESPN and Variety. Exploiting the intense interest in Trump news and enabled by ubiquitous content ads, they click through to a lead-generation marketing site called The Dollar Daily Today. Other versions of these ads have featured Sean Spicer, Paul Ryan and President Obama.
More broadly, the ads belong to a subcategory of suspect online content, advertising that uses misleading images and headlines to get unwitting consumers to click through to direct-response ads.
It’s a not-so-distant cousin of so-called fake news that was blamed for influencing last year’s presidential election and which Facebook and Google have pledged to try to stop from spreading.
Outbrain said it was alerted to the Trumpian ad and was in the process of removing it from its network. Most major publisher sites run content-recommendation ad units like Outbrain’s.
Outbrain serves as many as 250 billion content recommendations a month, so it’s hard to police them all. A report by ChangeAdvertising.org found 26 percent of the links in content ads were clickbait, most of it directing to sites that were anonymous.
Content-ad companies say one way misleading ads or images get by is that companies alter their ads after they’re published or include images that don’t match the content. This is far from the first time a content-recommendation engine has had to weed out misleading or sensational ads using famous personalities from its network. In recent months, Outbrain said it has blocked the use of headlines like “celebrity X went broke” or “celebrity Y you didn’t know died this year.”
Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of the other leading content ad company, Taboola, said he couldn’t find the Trump image or advertiser in Taboola’s network but that, in general, Taboola doesn’t accept advertisements containing images from celebrities or politicians unless the advertiser has permission from the person.
But there’s limited incentive for all the stakeholders to get rid of such ads, said New School professor David Carroll, an ad tech expert. In addition to his draw as a celebrity, Trump could be a popular choice for an ad given that Facebook data has shown Trump supporters are more likely to respond to ads than the average person. “Including Trump in a banner ad could just be to bait the high-propensity click-through,” he said. “If it makes money, it’s hard to say no. The publisher that has the content ad makes money, Outbrain makes money, the lead generation site makes money, the loan originator make money.”
In graphic detail: Publishers’ full year 2022 earnings
Looking back at 2022, the hits to publishers' revenue were partially staunched, but by the end of the year nearly all areas of the business felt the impact of the economic downturn.
‘It has to be built in’: How agencies strive to advance their diversity goals
There often is no blueprint for diversity in the corporate world, and many initiatives at media agencies have been works in progress over the last few years.
Publishers tout generative AI opportunities to save and make money amid rough media market
Generative AI technology will be an area of focus for some media companies this year as they work to cut costs and find new revenue opportunities amid a tough media market.
SponsoredBrands are optimizing video production to drive user acquisition
Sponsored by QuickFrame by MNTN With brands increasingly investing in video ads on social media, marketers are enhancing their video production capabilities to unlock growth on Facebook and Instagram. Especially urgent in an uncertain economic climate, brands must minimize production costs while creating a high enough volume of social media videos to identify the creative […]
Digiday+ Research: Video ads are a growing business for publishers large and small
Video advertising's potential rings most true among small publishers, while data points to video advertising already reaching its potential among large publishers — but also not, at the same time.
How The Guardian’s Luis Romero is selling the legacy U.K. publication in the U.S.
The Guardian U.S.'s Luis Romero is working to grow the U.K.-based publishers' ad business in North America while combating the pervasive brand safety problem facing all news publishers.