A planned launch of Amadeus’s travel specialist programmatic advertising arm in the UK could not have been better timed.
An expose by The Times this week revealed adverts for major brands, including some in travel, are appearing on Islamic extremist, white supremacist and pornographic websites and against content on third party sites like YouTube.
‘Lazy’ advertising networks that do not properly audit their media buying were accused of profiteering and helping to fund terror by using automated marketing technology to place clients’ ads on publishers’ sites potential customers are expected to visit.
Travel brands like Sandals, Disney and Virgin Holidays were inadvertently caught up in the scandal as well as household names Mercedes, Waitrose, Halifax and Honda and even charities and publically-funded bodies.
Travel Audience, which was bought by Amadeus in 2013, will announce its launch in the UK at this month’s Travel Technology Europe show guaranteeing that its network is tailored to travel and properly vetted.
Sandro Cuzzolin, head of strategic projects, said: “I cannot imagine the reaction at those companies who found themselves splashed all over the front pages this week.
“I feel very sorry for them because the situation must be very unpleasant. They did not look for this, they trusted someone and fell into this situation.”
Cuzzolin said the expose illustrated the risks of using third party marketing technology that does not offer a “brand safe” network.
Everyone can generate content and publish it. There is a lot of freedom but at the same time this comes with risks
“For the brands caught up in this it’s not only a waste of money but also a dilution of their brand values. Unfortunately it’s not surprising, but it’s a problem the market has right now.
“This industry is evolving and not everyone is prepared to be compliant with standards that advertisers expect.
“We carefully select publishers, working with the travel industry, and only use websites that are whitelisted. We know exactly what content is on those websites.”
Cuzzolin said the light has been shone on a major issue in the online marketing industry about who is responsible for publishing content.
“We live in a beautiful moment on the internet where everyone can generate content and publish it. There is a lot of freedom but at the same time this comes with risks. It’s not always easy to control,” he added.
Cuzzolin said ensuring publisher networks are vetted and compliant means they are also relevant for the advertisers which means better return on investment.
Germany-based Travel Audience, which already operates throughout Europe and in Russia, will launch in the UK at Travel Technology Europe on February 22 and 23 at Olympia in London.