Why didn’t these companies know they were advertising on Breitbart?

Companies often don't know where their ads end up appearing. Sometimes they follow a user around the Internet, to whatever sites they visit.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/File
Kellogg's Corporation, whose Corn Flakes was seen here at a Ralph's grocery store in Pasadena, Calif., in 2015, has taken steps to ensure its ads no longer show up on Breitbart.

Food manufacturer Kellogg’s will join a growing list of companies that are taking steps to block their ads from appearing on Breitbart News, after pressure from social media users.

The site, formerly edited by President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign chair and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, is a popular media platform for the “alt-right,” a white supremacist movement. The site regularly features articles with a racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim, or anti-Semitic bent.

“We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that are not aligned with our values as a company,” Kris Charles, a spokeswoman for Kellogg’s, told the Associated Press. “We recently reviewed the list of sites where our ads can be placed and decided to discontinue advertising on Breitbart.com. We are working to remove our ads from that site.”

Other companies to cut ads on the site include insurance company Allstate, Internet service provider EarthLink, pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, online glasses retailer Warby Parker, and the San Diego Zoo.

The fact that many of the companies apparently didn’t know that their ads were appearing there seems to highlight how new ad technologies have loosened companies’ grip over their brand’s associations.

Companies usually buy ads for general types of websites – such as those that feature news content – rather than for specific sites, as McClatchy notes. And while companies can filter out sites considered objectionable for one reason or another, “retargeted ads” that follow users around the web from one site to another are especially susceptible to popping up in places that companies might otherwise avoid.

“It becomes a lot easier for buyers to lose a degree of control over where their ads run,” Ari Paparo, chief executive officer of online inventory bidder Beeswax, told Digiday.

“A marketer may use a whitelist or a verification vendor to protect against running on objectionable sites, but it is an inexact science," he said. "A site that is offensive but not obviously a hate/porn/illegal site might pass unless someone is specifically looking to block it.”

Both Allstate and Warby Parker said that they didn’t know their ads showed up on Breitbart.

“Warby Parker does not buy advertising from Breitbart News Network directly,” said a Warby Parker spokeswoman. “If one of our ads appears on a Breitbart site, it’s due to a sale through third-party ad networks or ad exchanges. We are looking into actively blocking our ads from appearing on Breitbart News Network.”

Other companies, of course, are less upset to see their products associated with a news site that drew in 19.2 million unique visitors in the United States in October. Nissan, for example, said in a statement to Bloomberg that its ads appearing on Breitbart were “not intended to be a political commentary,” adding that it had “no plans to change the advertising mix at this time.”

Breitbart, which rejects associations with white nationalism and other discredited far-right ideologies, released a statement to the Associated Press that condemned Kellogg’s decision.

“Kellogg’s decision to blacklist one of the largest conservative media outlets in America is economic censorship of mainstream conservative political discourse,” it said. “That is as un-American as it gets.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why didn’t these companies know they were advertising on Breitbart?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today