Tesco ‘frustrated’ at media spend being ‘siphoned off’ to protect brand reputation

Tesco believes too much of its media spend is being “siphoned off” to ad tech instead of being used to reach customers in quality environments.


Tesco is “frustrated” that it is having to spend an increasing amount of money on ensuring its advertising does not appear next to inappropriate content and believes publishers should foot more of the bill.

Speaking during a game-show style panel at Advertising Week Europe today (19 March), Tesco’s head of media and campaign planning Nick Ashley said media spend is increasingly being “siphoned off” and spent on ad verification technology and “bits of tech”.

“What I want to be doing is trusting the publisher environment that what I buy is going to be safe and right for my brand and increasingly I can’t do that because it’s so complex and fragmented,” Ashley said. “Publishers should take more responsibility.”

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a third of people believe it is a brand’s fault if an ad appears next to inappropriate content rather than a publisher’s, while 40% say the context in which an ad appears is reflected within that brand’s values.

“It’s really important we get it right,” Ashley added. “There’s one thing which is about brand safety and the other is about brand suitability. What’s right for me might not be right for Aston Martin and vice versa. What’s frustrating is increasingly advertisers are having to pay to put the tech in to make sure their advertising is in brand safe environments.”

The rise of programmatic has been largely to blame for the spate of issues around brand safety, measurement and ad fraud. And with this Ashley said media has become too much about the audience.

“People use phrases like ‘audience buying’ whereas what media is about is the people consuming the message at the end of it, the channel or platform they are consuming it on and the context in which they’re receiving it,” Ashley explained.

“All three are equally important. That context could be the environment, the mood they’re in or the day of the week. But it’s become far too much focused on audience and that’s why we’ve got some of these problems.”

However, he said this has led to something of a reversal where planners are thinking more about the craft of media planning and where and how they want their ads to appear.

While conversations around media environments often “too quickly become a negative discussion about brand safety”, Ashley cited a campaign Tesco Finest ran on Sky as an example of a return to craft.

“The results were amazing,” he concluded. “Not only sales but also brand perception. It absolutely demonstrated to us that really well thought out targeting and quality environments drive business results.”

Hide Comments2 Show Comments
  • Robert Strohfeldt 19 Mar 2019 at 10:31 pm

    This has been an issue since I joined the industry in 1983. We had a TV movie sponsorship with opening and closing billboards as well as the usual 30 sec spots for a large Japanese tyre manufacturer client. It was a new concept back then and quite big industry news. The Japanese chairman in Australia was no too happy to see the movie
    opening ‘” Tora, Tora, Tora is proudly brought to you by xxxx”. But even worse was the TVC for new gas ovens in a documentry on the Nuremberg Trials. (A true story). Whose fault? Well ,we argued back then and nothing seems to have changed, just become far more complex and detailed to police.

  • David Rasmusson 22 Mar 2019 at 9:46 am

    As a publisher we could give Tesco exactly the quality environments they want, and remove all that bloated verification tech. I’m sure we could make a deal that at least breaks even for them.

  • Post a comment

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here