British Gas, O2 and M&S ads appear on 'paedo and incest' websites, according to The Sun

British Gas, O2, Marks & Spencer, Cillit Bang, Asda and Center Parcs are among the brands advertising on "paedeo and incest websites", according to a report in The Sun, leading to questions about the efficacy of the media monitoring and targeting technology they are using.

The Sun: publishes report about brand ads appearing alongside paedophilia and incest content
The Sun: publishes report about brand ads appearing alongside paedophilia and incest content

Yesterday The Sun published a report headlined, "Sun Investigates Sleaze Blunder: Why are adverts for these brands up on paedo and incest websites?"

The paper named British Gas, O2, Royal Ascot and Accessorize as "among more than a dozen top names" that have appeared against content on sites "devoted to paedophilia, incest, bestiality and racism".

Niall Hogan, the UK managing director of Integral Ad Science, which provides brands and agencies with media evaluation intelligence and technology, said the article posed the question: "Is the brand working with a CV (content verification) vendor?"

He said: "If they are, did the brand or their representatives have the blocking capabilities turned on or were they simply monitoring?"

The Sun piece suggests ads for brands are being placed by software on the basis of keywords – so Royal Ascot, as a brand focused on horse-racing, has had ads positioned on sites dedicated to bestiality, while the latter half of the brand name Cillit Bang "probably" led to the brand appearing against content focused on rape and incest.

Hogan acknowledges that the paper's revelations must be "distressing for brands".

He said: "It is important that everyone employed on their behalf; from the sellers of media, through to exchanges, SSPs, DSPs, agency trading desks, media agencies, buyers and tech vendors are all working on their behalf to stop their ads appearing next to inappropriate content."

Hogan's company is set to publish research which reveals that 11% of all UK ads monitored by Integral Ad Science were blocked from serving alongside content deemed inappropriate by the advertiser.

He said he had seen "many instances where buyers only choose to use the basic monitoring tool set because they feel that the full suite is cost prohibitive".

"We are talking about a difference in pennies in the CPM here, not pounds, and I am sure that each of the brands singled out in the article would happily pay a small difference for the full blocking capabilities of the technology now."

But Hogan also pointed out that no blocking technology is infallible. He said: "An impression can get passed, as technology learns to read and categorise new web pages for the first time.

"If an advertiser is working with a CV tool, this could be the odd single impression, but not thousands of impressions."

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

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