Recent controversies have put the spotlight on where the responsibility for your brand’s reputation really lies.
It’s been an uncharacteristically tough time for Google recently, with the tech giant going into damage limitation mode after a number of their advertisers’ brands were found positioned next to extremist content online.
The fallout from this has shown just how seriously these brands take their reputation (no surprise there), with some big names including Vodafone, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Audi, the BBC, Sainsbury’s and Argos all cutting their spend on Google ads as a result. And according to a study by equities firm Nomura Institet, the advertising boycott of YouTube could cost the video platform $750m (£597m) in lost revenue in 2017.
So – what implications does all this have for us as marketing communicators, who are in the business of spreading the word about the brands we love? Well, it certainly shows that – in the digital sphere at least – there are risks involved in handing over some degree of control of your brand reputation to technology, however smart it might be. And while Google is now saying all the right things – and looking at better controls and tighter policies to safeguard its advertisers – its probably not an issue that’s going to go away quickly.
At the same time, we’re clearly not saying that there’s no longer a place for digital marketing any more. It’s going to take a lot more than a bad week for Google to change current trends.
But it’s also obvious that there are important lessons to learn about where the responsibility for your brand reputation really lies. The events of this week were a great reminder that it’s up to us all, first and foremost, to make sure that the places our brands are seen – and the things they’re associated with – aren’t harmful.
And ultimately, we believe it’s yet another reason why print direct marketing is sometimes a better bet. After all, direct mail is a channel that allows you to keep a much tighter rein on how and where your brand is presented.