networks are being used frequently by advertisers and publishers these days to reach the large mass of Internet consumers. By nature, online ad networks are neutral and publish ads across various sites using a software-controlled ad placement process.
In such a system, there's always a good chance that an ad may be placed on a website or web page with which the advertiser does not want to be associated. This is what happened recently with Facebook.com: Advertisers Vodafone and Virgin Media withdrew their ads from the site in the UK because they appeared on the page of a far-right political party. Similarly, advertisers like Barclaycard and The National Lottery withdrew their ads from movie site IMDb.com (an Amazon.com company) in the US after they appeared next to adult movie listings.
Sachin Bhatia, chief marketing officer, Makemytrip.com, which uses online networks like Google Adsense, Tyroo and Komli, says, "It depends on the marketing objective. If you want to generate traffic, then your ad will be published on thousands of sites and, practically, you cannot look for control in such a situation." Makemytrip does a regular audit of its ads going through online ad networks, using a web analytic tool, which highlights where the traffic is coming from. If a site does not perform well, it is de-listed by the company.
Naukri.com also uses the services of online ad networks. Apurva Kumar, vice-president and national head, Mobility, ad sales and investment, Naukri.com, says, "Networks like Google AdSense do provide controls like site targeting through which an advertiser can choose particular sites and categories he wants to advertise on." Naukri.com faced an awkward situation a while ago when ads of competitor sites appeared on its site. The company later blocked these ads. However, Kumar declines to comment on the problem.
Publisher NDTV currently uses Google AdSense and it is evaluating other ad networks to incorporate in the near future. Sanjay Trehan, CEO, NDTV Convergence, says, "Sometimes, contextually wrong and competitors' ads are served on our sites, but we don't mind them and we don't take any action to block such ads."
Sulekha.com, which uses Google AdSense, keeps a regular check on the ads that are displayed on the site. Sridhar, director, global brand and marketing, Sulekha.com, says, "So far, Sulekha has not experienced any unwanted ad placed on its site, but as a publisher, we have to be very careful and check every link."
However, as online ad networks evolve, they are providing some control options to their clients, like reporting competitor ads or unsolicited ads on their site which the network owner can then block, if necessary.