The Law of Unintended Consequences usually happens when you only get one side of a story, or surround yourself with people who always agree. This is especially true in advertising, or anything that requires walking that fine line between strong creative debate and strong leadership.
Here is a case in point. The new digital ad landscape is like the Wild West. We’ve all looked at a product on Amazon, and then had an ad stalk us across the digital world like some Tron bounty hunter. Although this is semi creepy, it gets even creepier when you look at a ladder at Home Depot, decide not to buy, and start getting Home Depot ads hunting you down..Or a Groupon for the same product you were just looking at.
While all of this registers about a ten on the disturbing index, the real unchartered territory is when a digital ad is placed in the middle of an online news article or website. This is where ad executives don’t realize the damage they are causing their brand. In television or radio, there is banter and buffer when the news transitions to advertising. Not so when a cube ad is smack in the middle of an article about a seven year old ISIS kid decapitating someone.
The above example had a beautiful “It’s the New Year Mattress Sale” ad right next to the picture of the child with the machete. This is a major bed retailer. Do they want their brand associated with this? You know the answer.
My wife and I recently watched an HBO documentary about alcoholism and looked up a “Where are they now” website about the subjects. Right in the middle of the website, ABOUT ALCOHOLISM, was an ad for……Wait for it….A whiskey company. This is a digital algorithm gone awry. Marketing shouldn’t make you think negative of the brand in the name of targeting.