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Accounting for Undesirable Sellers and Buyers in Ad Transactions

As we’ve been discussing the process of buying and selling ads on the unfathomably vast and diverse platforms of the internet, we’ve looked into ways of dealing with the complexities that the internet’s size creates for advertising. Google couldn’t possibly set a fixed price for ads because the number of calculations they’d have to run – virtually every ad on virtually every website, is simply impossible. The size of the web also creates another issue with the process of buying and selling ads on the internet: the process of filtering out undesirable buyers and sellers of ads. This has been a particularly difficult problem with the rise of alt-right and terrorist organizations infiltrating web media and using ads to both fund their platforms, and recruit new audiences to their ideology. The YouTube “adpocalypse” is a manifestation of the effects of this issue.

In spring of 2017, advertisements that large corporations paid for were beginning to show up before and during racist videos. YouTube’s platform used to allow anybody to monetize their videos, regardless of the size of their platform. While they had usage guidelines that banned offensive content, many videos have gone undetected by algorithms or unreported by their audiences. Thus these videos still remained on the market for ad placement. As the alt-right movement burgeoned, and bad press emerged, Many major companies like Pepsi and Johnson & Johnson began boycotting YouTube until they came up with a fix. YouTube’s solution was the NAF (“not advertiser friendly”) marker. While the algorithm behind NAF marking restored confidence in major ad sellers, it also proved to be detrimental to creators who have had their videos marked incorrectly as NAF. Many YouTube content creators make their living off of YouTube advertising money, and those who made even somewhat suggestive content suddenly had no source of income. As a result, they had to abandon Google’s system of ad matching with auctions and instead work directly with companies to create hard-coded ads within the videos. It is clear from the example of YouTube that filtration of buyers and sellers of ads online is a serious issue with serious implications on the market strategies of Platforms, creators, and advertisers alike.


Here is a good article about the “adpocalypse”:¬†


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October 2018