* This article originally appeared on smk.co – as one of our resident guest blog posts.
So you’re caught between a rock and a hard place.
You’ve seen all the Adpocalypse stories and are concerned that your programmatic ads are costing you millions in fraudulent clicks at best or associating your brand with hate-filled, bigoted corners of the web at worst.
Yet at the same time, you still have to build your brand online and unlike P&G, you can’t simply pull your digital ad spend.
Here are some things you (or your agency) can do to buy yourself or your stakeholders some peace of mind:

1. Easy: Automated wins

Here is some low hanging fruit –  some fairly automated settings which you can ‘set and forget’:
YouTube: Since the poo hit the fan, Google was quick to include these all new Beta Content Exclusions now available at the Campaign level for all Video campaigns. Make sure you’re using these.
Google Display Network: Similarly, Site Category Exclusions have always been available at the Campaign level for all Display Network campaigns – make sure you’re using these appropriately as well.
Facebook: Likewise Facebook raced to implement a new Category Blocking solution – this is still rolling out, the paint is still wet and this feature is not available for all clients just yet.

2. Harder fought: Semi-automated wins

Over and above the easy wins, if you still want a bit more control, here are some items you should be thinking through:
Audience Targeting. How are you using Programmatic Audience targeting (targeting that follows the user/cookie around the web regardless of the site the user visits)? Since you don’t know where the user is going, your ad may inadvertently be seen on websites that don’t align with your Brand’s values. This includes high ‘buying intent’ audiences like Remarketing, DSK, In-Market Audiences. If you are going to keep using these kinds of audience targets, make sure you have appropriate categories excluded (Step 1, above).

Content Targeting. What keywords are you using to target site, app or YouTube content? Are any of those keywords ambiguous enough that they could be broad matched by google to less than desirable content? Content targeting has improved drastically in the last 12 months so this is less likely going to be an issue, however if you pull back spend on Audience Targeting, likely Content Targeting alone won’t be able to make up the Conversion volume of your Audience Targeting campaigns so be prepared for a drop in Macro and even Micro Conversions.

Automated Placements. Even with the above targeting and checks in place, you may still need to keep an eye on Automated Placements to negative inappropriate placements. This has always been available in Adwords, but now we can also opt out of placements on Facebook’s Audience Network as well. A simpler way to do this in Adwords is by using a Master Negative Placements script which can exclude placements across campaigns in the same account, or even across multiple accounts in your MCC. Facebook doesn’t yet have any agency level way to exclude placements, but you can now also setup a master Block List per account.

3. Hardest, fully manual wins

If programmatic has tipped you over the edge and caused you to rebel against all things algorithmic, then your last choice is to go fully manual.
Here, you can use historical data to find your best performing, acceptable placements and choose to target only these.
A lot of work involved here and most likely this will mean a huge hit to any Macro or Micro conversion volume but if desperate times calls for desperate measures, then this is what you can do to 100% ensure your brand is seen in exactly the light that you desire.

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About Adam Sugihto

Founder of Intentional - a specialist Pay Per Click Advertising Agency based in Melbourne, Australia. Member of Perry Marshall's Marketing Mastermind since 2011. Google Adwords Qualified Individual since 2010.

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