Can I read about rape, and laugh in the same breath?
In the wake of the #MeToo conversation, our digital and more specifically, social media platforms have been abuzz with links, status updates, comments, and multiple shares with women finally garnering the courage to share their ordeal of violence and sexual abuse.
As society, we’ve both consciously and otherwise known that rape in our society has been vile, but in the recent period, never has it become so starkingly apparent that perhaps, rape is one of the biggest human challenges of all time. It is incredibly disturbing that almost every woman has a story to tell, and the most critical thing is that not all of the women do get the opportunity to tell their stories. Communication is critical therefore when women do get to tell their stories, particularly with regards to the #MeToo conversation, do we need advertising messaging in between? I don’t think so.
rape is one of the biggest human challenges of all time
This article is not necessarily about #MeToo, but rather advertising during this time whilst all of this is happening.
As I was reading this article about how difficult it is for women to speak about the experiences of violence and sexual abuse, perhaps even more interesting is that before victims can even decide to speak, they have internal battles as to whether the men in question are in actual fact doing anything wrong. This by default, gives the perpetrators the benefit of doubt.
Whilst reading such heart wrenching articles, one is hit by programmatic advertising. These are sometimes ads that have humor in them, and they intentionally aim to bring lightness and laughter. Now, if one is reading an article about rape, and comes across an ad that’s funny, what must happen?
Below are screenshots of excerpts of the aforementioned article where two brands ended up advertising, not by human choice, but rather through an automated algorithm that saw it fit for the ads to appear in the article.
Whilst programmatic advertising is underpinned on the desired or identified target audiences’ demographics, interests and identified platforms, perhaps we should think about the content as well. No? Perhaps identified publishers will once-in-a-while publish serious content like #MeToo, and our ad placement will inevitably fall out of place. Awkward.
I’m conflicted. Does it matter who advertises in an article about rape? Should there even be advertising? It somehow feels like a rude interruption to a serious topic/issue. I suppose this becomes the “noise” that we just scroll over?
I feel that the content of certain articles should not be bombarded with advertising that inevitably dilutes the impact therein. Rape is a serious issue/topic and readers should not be interrupted, more so, the author, the person sharing their story should not be interrupted with adverts that almost make it seem as though the story isn’t that serious nor important.
Or am I reading too much into it? Perhaps we really need to think about where exactly our ads will end up. Should marketers, brands, agencies and social media people be concerned and conscious about where their programmatic adverts will unintentionally land?
Whilst the ads are programmatic and perhaps advertisers don’t really have complete control of the automatically chosen media, is there a way to mitigate against adverts popping up on pages or platforms that may dilute their messaging?
As Advertisers, what is our responsibility when it comes to programmatic advertising?
Do we need to be thinking deeper about where exactly our ads will land?
Should we be thinking about pages or platforms where our brands shouldn’t be?
Is this even a topic worth talking about?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
PS: N.B.: Kulula & Lay’s are not targeted or meant to be appear insensitive, they appeared in the story as I was reading it, and the ads that you see may be different to the two brands, because of programmatic advertising.