Tuesday, February 11, 2014

GUMGUM STEPS IN IT: Platform's In-Image Ads Use Detroit "Ruin Porn" Photos To Sell Lincoln's Luxury MKX SUV, Chobani Yogurt, AT&T

GumGum describes itself as a digital advertising platform built on the fundamental belief that for ads to be effective they need to be seen. 

Well, your girl Miss Fortune just saw a group of Detroit "ruin porn" photos on Indulgd.com, one of the nearly 2,400 "premium websites" that allow GumGum to place ads atop photos on their sites, that may come back to haunt their respective advertisers—especially Dearborn-based Lincoln Motor Company.

A "Detroit decay porn" photo essay published on Indulgd.com in late January, "29 Most Eerie Photos of The Abandoned and Bankrupt City of Detroit", features work previously published in the 2010 book "The Ruins of Detroit" by Yves Manchand and Romain Meffre of Paris.

The photos "show the grandeur of the history of Detroit and at the same time expose the horror of the city's financial disaster."

Perfect content for selling a $40,000 hybrid SUV, right?  
Not in the opinion of this former consumer packaged goods advertising Account Supervisor!

While it's clear to Miss Fortune that Lincoln wouldn't have knowingly selected the images, the unfortunate juxtaposition is especially jarring with the automaker's banners, which link to a 15-second commercial (image at left) featuring a couple living in an expansive industrial-style loft with an  idealized urban skyline view.

CEO Ophir Tanz has explained that GumGum's technology crawls publishers' pages for keywords  to identify on which images to run the ads. 

And GumGum reportedly hired an impressive team of statisticians, PhDs and image scientists to create the first image recognition technology that matches advertising to content (photos) and that can drill down to target keywords.

So your girl Miss Fortune wonders what keywords popped up for GumGum to deliver an image of Detroit's Packard Plant as the perfect "content" for Lincoln's 2014 MKX?

And what makes this abandoned building in Detroit perfect for Chobani's USOC-related ad? 


If GumGum takes brand safety seriously, it needs to improve the platform's protection mechanisms.

At least the AT&T ad isn't entirely creepy...


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