Facebook and Google brand safety issues should 'kick marketers up the butt'

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 27 March 2018
brand safety

"There's no knee-jerk reaction" to pulling ad spend on Facebook or deleting brand pages, says Village Roadshow marketer Clare Smith on discussing its course of action following the social media company's recent data safety woes.

Speaking to AdNews at the Adobe Summit in the US, digital and customer marketing head Smith says Village sub brand Roadshow Films, which is one of Australia's largest film and TV distribution businesses, was quick to hit stop on its YouTube advertising following brand safety concerns late last year.

While the brand acted rapidly in response to YouTube's brand safety crisis, Smith says it is sitting tight on Facebook's latest data debacle, which has seen the uprising of a #deletefacebook movement.

Concerns about Facebook have grown after data firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of obtaining the personal information of about 50 million users. Then, late last week entrepreneur Elon Musk had the official Facebook pages for his Tesla and SpaceX companies deleted and some other brands followed suit.

"It's an interesting conundrum for us but we have taken it as a positive as that's all you can do," Smith says. "For me, when things like this happen it gets us off our butt as we get too comfortable with having Facebook and Google there sometimes.

"All of the strategy around data and collection and behaviour are very tied to those platforms and that's the same for everyone. So, when things like this happen it's a kick up the butt for them but it's also a kick up the butt for us."

Regarding its quick pull back from Google at the time, Smith says given it has partnerships with major film studios Warner Bros and Lionsgate, and it was distributing film ads at the time for children, they couldn't take the risk, and paused ad spend for three months.

"We pulled out of YouTube straight away. Our brands are much more important to us than they are to YouTube so we would never put ourselves in a position where a brand came into distripute," Smith says.

In representing many brands, Smith says its partners are also "very forthright" with advice as well.

"In these instances, you have to take it as a positive for your brand and say 'maybe we have used Facebook and Google too much as a crutch?'," she says. "It's a bit like the old TV buy of doing a two channel buy, Channel Seven and Nine - job done.

"So, with the YouTube one we really challenged its agency OMD by saying while we can't use YouTube, we still need to try and hit that same reach and engagement so let's try stuff - stuff that we hadn't previously put on the plan."

This saw Roadshow expand its reach with various publishers, such as using Unilad and Ladbible, which were suitable for the title they were advertising at that time.

Current state of play

Smith says Roadshow is still looking at what the ramifications are from the Facebook data issue and how comfortable it is with the platform.

She says it's very fresh, currently has a few campaigns running and has so far had four emails from varying levels of execs at Facebook offering advice and their views.

"I am still trying to formulate a position," Smith says.

Smith, who was "surprised" at Musk's decision to remove Facebook pages, says for now, she has "put this back on" her agency to get their stance.

"I don't want to just have that knee jerk reaction. You need to take on board everybody's view point to make the right decision for your business," Smith says.

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