Injected Ads Make For Awkward Situations Between Brands

In this week’s issue of Adage, author Alex Kantrowitz reported on the occurrence of a Target advertisement that recently ran right in the middle of Walmart’s website. As you can probably guess, Walmart didn’t sell this ad space to Target, one of its biggest competitors. So how did the ad end up there?

According to Kantrowitz, there exists a network of browser extensions available that he writes “promises consumers some sort of benefit, such as the ability to download streaming videos, but inject ads into sites across the web”. Behind this operation is a company named 215 Apps (or Engaging Apps), and it has the ability to serve to some of the world’s top publishers such as Yahoo, MSN, Weather.com, Yelp, and YouTube.

Ad servers and like RightAction (formerly 50onRed) and Zenovia are one way that ads can enter the system to be injected into the white space of a web page. Once a 215 Apps extension is installed on a browser, injected 215 Apps ads can be sold to one of these ad exchanges, and turned around and sold again.

“Sequences like this are how injected-ad inventory makes its way from ad-injection-friendly ad-tech companies into the broader ecosystem,” states Kantrowitz.

Many people see this as a problem with brand safety and fraud, while some people, like RightAction co-founder Stephen Gill defend injected ads, saying that they are “far from fraud” and “not all toolbar and plugin inventory is bad”.

As a consumer or as an advertiser, what do you think about injected ads? As an advertiser, is it something worth considering for clients? Does it breach the topic of “brand safety”?

 

Image Credit: Alex Kantrowitz’ “Why That Target Ad is on Walmart’s Website” article on Advertising Age, Walmart.com