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.”