Politics of Advertising

Are companies responsible for where their paid advertisements are placed in this age of digital media?

Twitter user @slpng_giants believes they do.  And so do their (quickly increasing) followers.

You may have heard about Kellogg’s pulling their ad from website Breitbart for their ties to white supremacists.  It has led to a boycott of the brand and a trending hashtag (#DumpKelloggs).

Many companies use Google AdSense to display their ads.  And Google AdSense is displayed on a ton of websites across the web.  The website makes money for each impression and click [note: singleflyer.com displays ads from AdSense].  Websites that get a lot of traffic can make A TON of money off this advertising.  We are talking tens of thousands of dollars a year for popular websites.  I would venture the top travel bloggers are making big time money.

Some fake news websites have been set up to get “clicks” and make money off of advertising on their sites.  Recently Google announced they were banning these fake news sites from using AdSense.

This week’s controversy has to do with advertising on one site in particular; Breitbart.  This site has a history of misogynist and racist posts [which is why I am not linking to it].  So should Google stop allowing their ad platform on this site?

That is up to Google.  But, companies that pay to advertise via AdSense can also decide if they want to advertise on Breitbart (or any other website).

Hyatt, for example, could use a whitelist and stop their ads from running on objectionable sites.  You probably won’t see a Hyatt ad running on a pornography site.

Twitter users are taking screenshots of ads on the website and tweeting the companies, asking them to pull their ads.  During a test visit this evening I saw an ad for American Express.


My guess is that American Express probably has no clue that their ads are showing up on Breitbart.  This Twitter campaign is hoping to change that.  And it seems to be working.

What do you think?  Do travel and credit card companies have a duty to investigate where the money they spend on advertising ends up?

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