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Leon Kaye headshot

JPMorgan: We Moderated Our Online Advertising, And Nothing Changed

By Leon Kaye

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase slashed its online advertising this month, and its online presence remained more or less the same, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Just a month ago, ads for Chase banking and other JPMorgan services could be found on over 400,000 sites, the company told Times reporter Sapna Meheshwari. But in the wake of a backlash against companies that advertise on fake news portals or sites such as Breitbart, the company slashed its online advertising down to approximately 5,000 pre-approved sites.

Despite limiting the Internet properties on which it advertises, JPMorgan claims that it has seen almost no changes in the cost of impressions (the instances a banner ad appears on a webpage) or the visibility of the company in the online world. JPMorgan says it is being far more judicious about where its ads appear across the web, and that includes alongside online video content as well.

Last week, the banking giant joined Johnson & Johnson and other widely-known brands in suspending their advertising spend on YouTube as some users had reportedly seen such ads alongside offensive videos. Additional companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Walmart and Dish Network, also announced that they would cease advertising on YouTube due to similar complaints. That news rocked Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as YouTube had emerged as one of the company’s more popular and profitable ventures. Shortly after those companies’ announcements, Alphabet’s stock price dropped 1.2 percent, though it has since then recovered.

The sudden avoidance of YouTube and other internet sites is a blow to programmatic advertising, which had surged in popularity in recent years. Advertisers, especially those representing consumer brands, have eschewed ad buys on individual web sites as the technology that allows for targeting based on people’s web browsing habits became far more cost effective. As a result, someone browsing the web could see that smartphone ad on a popular web property or random individual technology blog. And if you were close to purchasing a product on a site such as Amazon, but either changed your mind or just forgot to follow through, programmatic advertising is why you might see that same gizmo appearing on various web sites week after week despite your loss of interest.

This shift in advertising will hurt many third-party advertising companies, who are largely responsible for these large ad buys. And this trend could also hurt smaller web sites, as they reap some financial benefits from these massive ad purchases. The average internet user, however, may be relieved – as in the author of this article, who has often been rankled over the fact that every time he posts an article about Armenia or Armenians on his personal site, banners for the dating service “Armenian Friends” often appear. And this shift is hardly fool-proof, as the Times has also reported that some brands attempting to block their ads from appearing on Breitbart or similar sites could find their ads occasionally sneak through anyway.

Nevertheless, JPMorgan’s change in tactics shows how the current political climate can prove toxic for brands and their advertising partners. Whether or not a company wants to appear aligned or distant from Donald Trump - or any controversial public figure or organization, for that matter - the sword cuts both ways. Depending on the product or service, half of a company's customers will be jubilant, while the other half enraged. But as the growing outrage over fake news proliferates, paired with the growing evidence of Russia’s influence on the past election – and ensuing cover-up – the vast majority of marketing and brand managers will err on the side of caution.

Image credit: Joe Montiel/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye