Churbuck on the Art of the Make-Good

David Churbuck has an excellent piece on his blog today about the art of the make-good. In publishing, when you make an error on an ad, you end up having to “make-good” and that generally comes as free advertising. The ad agencies spend a lot of time looking for make-good fodder.

Churbuck:

What inspires this post? Can’t say, only to note that I had a fire in my inbox at 6 am involving an online ad appearing next to unclad women thanks to a screw up in an ad network which shall go unnamed. The make good was an additional 4 million impressions which is like offering another serving of mussels to the guy who just claimed the restaurant nearly killed him with food poisoning.

When positioning goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong. The newspaper system people have spent a lot of time over the years providing a means for the newspapers to catch this stuff. Back in the old days, the editorial side of the house couldn’t see the ads, because the ad and editorial system were almost completely separate. All the editors would see was a big Xed out spot where an ad was placed. Now modern systems use an ad stack import system so the paginators actually can see the finished product.

Of course, such notions of parsing ad copy against editorial copy aren’t often considered in the online world. I guess you could set the ad system to avoid certain keywords, but in truth, keyword entry for online publications is often either lacking entirely, or lacking enough accuracy for it to be reliable. Where keywords are available, they’re generally good enough to target for a campaign, but not good enough to ensure “make-good opportunities” won’t be a problem.

Several years ago, one of my associates, Jay Cody, did a series of presentations to some big Madison Ave. firms on behalf of a publication for whom we were developing a new and revolutionary advertising system. One major component of that system was designed to allow agencies to place and manage their own ads, be they print, radio, online or whatever. His demos went very well, but at the end of the meeting they all said virtually the same thing.

“Nice system. We will never, ever use it.”

He’d look quizzically back at them and say “Why?”

The group would look around at each other, laugh, then say “No more make-goods. If we place our own ads, we’ll be responsible for the make-goods. The make-good on a full page ad in the (paper name witheld) is worth close to a million dollars.”

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