Michael Arrington posted an example this morning on Tech Crunch of how some “video ad targeting still needs a little work.” You can see the link here (warning, it links to explicit content).
Advertising against syndicated video content is a tricky thing because you never know the environment your ads are going to be in. Even if it was targeting the right user via behavioral or other types of technology (Michael Arrington may actually be the perfect Office Depot target customer) it’s still content that a Fortune 500 company would never knowingly touch.
That’s the growing problem with user targeting solutions against unfiltered sites and content. A 40-year-old man who makes $250,000 a year, lives in New York City and has been to Lexus.com, for example, is certainly someone Lexus would want to reach via re-targeting or behavioral targeting, so they place a pixel on their landing pages to reach that user. However, the next person to use the machine is oftentimes not Mr. Lexus prospective customer but, for example, his teenage son going to a social networking site or an un-moderated forum. When Lexus works with ad networks who do not stringently filter their site partners for content and quality, the result is wasted impressions at best, or some embarrassing adjacencies at worst.
A similar experience happened to me this past weekend. I was sitting with my toddler-aged son watching some Thomas the Train videos on YouTube’s Thomas and Friends channel (professional content). Suddenly, I started getting ads for the upcoming “SAW V” movie. YouTube was probably targeting the right machine based on my viewing patterns, but talk about wasted impressions based on the content being viewed. Not to mention my son’s shouts when his Thomas videos were being obscured by overlays!