Online marketing whitelisting: What it is, how it works
Display advertising is one of the oldest cards in the online marketing deck, and companies have played it relentlessly for years. Of course, as with all digital tactics, there have been a few new wrinkles in recent months. For instance, organizations are beginning to have their reputations tied to their ad content and where it appears. With young shoppers ascribing motives, morals and high-level concepts to organizations of all kinds, it’s suddenly very relevant and helpful to have more control over where display ads appear. And that’s where whitelisting comes in.
What does a whitelist do?
When a whitelist is properly maintained, it acts as a list of allowed sites that can display ad content. It’s the opposite of a blacklist, which tells all the places ads can’t appear. AdExchanger contributor Emily Riley recently explained that in the modern media landscape, whitelists are by far the superior option. When new dubious websites can pop up at a fast pace, keeping up with them and blacklisting all relevant destinations sounds like a full-time job. In the present era of misinformation and underhanded fake news, there are a host of places where companies don’t want their valuable ads.
Riley also gave a stern warning to companies that don’t stick to their lists. She explained that it may be tempting to turn off restrictions and blast ads to the whole world at the end of a reporting period when impression numbers aren’t up to snuff. The permanent reputation damage that comes with this short-term bid for visibility could be a very poor reward for companies that try the tactic.
In fact, the quest for high view numbers in general may be harming marketers, not helping. Riley noted that there are only so many potential customers out there. Chasing absurd amounts of views in exchange for venturing away from trusted websites is a bad trade. The expert also warned that companies shouldn’t whitelist ad networks or resellers, because these organizations can easily place their content on questionable corners of the web.
Customers who care
DMN News recently tackled the need to whitelist carefully as reflected in modern consumer trends. No matter where on the political spectrum someone falls, seeing ads with certain content can move a viewer to demand a boycott. Considering the reach of social media, these actions can become hot topics in a matter of hours – not something a brand wants to experience.
The source pointed out that action against a company can often come from individuals who don’t look into the mechanics behind buying and distributing online ads. The answer to such a conundrum won’t be easy for brands to find, and the news provider called for whitelisting to expand in 2017 to meet the new demand. The fake news age likely has a few more twists in it, and brands’ reputations may end up on the line.
The other side of the business
Of course, whitelists and blacklists also exist among publishers of ads, as well as buyers. Business 2 Community contributor Scott Siegler pointed out that while advertisers are working to ensure their ads only appear on top-notch websites, the pages displaying those ads are occasionally saying no to ads that are either wrong for them or dilute their brand appeal.
Interestingly, Siegler expressed his opinion that many publishers are too trigger-happy when it comes to whitelisting or blacklisting particular advertisers. He recommended that they cut down on the number of ads they prevent from displaying, while still making sure to stop the worst offenders that will make their brands seem weaker.
Inhospitable corners of the web
When it comes to display advertising, it’s clear that the process of buying and distributing content isn’t done evolving yet. This is where the challenges reside for companies, that probably assumed at the beginning of the online revolution that they would have this process down to a science by the far-flung year of 2017. However, with all of the complications that keep emerging, blacklists and whitelists remain more art than science, but no less important for it.
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