The Age Busted For Malaysian Airlines Ads Appearing Next To MH370 Articles

The Age Busted For Malaysian Airlines Ads Appearing Next To MH370 Articles

Fairfax Media is once again in strife after ads for malaysian Airlines were placed next to articles regarding the search for MH370 last week.

As reported in B&T back in April, even the Sydney Morning Herald homepage has been busted for terrible ad placement. The SMH homepage featured ads encouraging people to book a trip with a cruise liner Carnival Spirit next to articles about the Carnival Spirit being stranded outside of Sydney’s Circular Quay unable to dock because of bad weather.


During the reporting of the found MH370 flight wreckage, The Age website featured an ad for Malaysian Airline’s flight details. The blunder was caught and posted on Twitter:

Managing editor of Techly Tristan Rayner spoke with Daniel Weil, who came across the poorly placed ad, about what his previous searches had been. Perhaps if Weil had just visited the Malaysian Airlines site it would have just been a simply re-targeting issue, or was it something much bigger.

There are entire re-targeting systems, such as AdRoll, which pick up your past searches and place them within other websites. For example if you’re searching for a new bike on Gumtree, bike ads will start to appear on your Facebook feed or YouTube ads.

According to the AdRoll website, “re-targeting works by keeping track of people who visit your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online”.

It turns out Weil hadn’t been searching for Malaysian Airlines tickets, so it’s unlikely he was being re-targeted.

In his Techly article, Rayner discussed how ‘keyword targeting’ is another tactic used to place online advertising into articles. Rayner said: “Some publishers will offer an advertiser like Adidas the opportunity to have their ads present whenever Nike are mentioned, hoping to cash in on interest. This is a known tactic during events like the FIFA World Cup, when Nike are a sponsor and Adidas are a challenger brand.

“Some publishers have very tight control what these ads are – removing certain distasteful brands such as gambling, pornographic, and ‘miracle’ health treatment ads. The New York Times proactively manage this to ensure an Age style clash doesn’t occur. The company goes as far as turning advertising off what they classify as sensitive stories via a manual operation.”

What do you think about targeted advertising? Have you ever seen a poorly placed ad in your searches? Tweet us @bandt

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