Understanding programmatic blacklists and whitelists

When you run a programmatic display ad campaign, the possibilities are almost endless. In theory, your ads could run on any website with available digital inventory.

In practice, you need some control over where your ads display. Two of the most important tools in your programmatic toolbox are black and white lists.

What’s a programmatic whitelist?

A whitelist is a list of websites where you explicitly want your ads to appear. Typically, whitelists include websites you know are authoritative, trusted, and frequently visited by members of your target audience, such as established industry publications or respected local news outlets.

Okay, what about a blacklist?

A blacklist is the opposite of a whitelist: a list of websites where you do not want your ads to appear. Obviously, you can probably think of quite a few such websites, but the main focus of your blacklist should be on websites that an automated system might think are relevant to your campaign but that you know shouldn’t be associated with your brand. For example, if you’re in the financial services industry, you might want to use a blacklist to keep your ads from appearing in the finance sections of politically extreme news websites.

How should we use whitelists and blacklists?

As with any programmatic tactic, it all starts with the target audience. When we decide which websites to whitelist or blacklist, we identify which websites an audience member might access, using both quantitative and qualitative insights. We also consider what their mindsight might be when they’re using each website and how an association with the website might affect their view of your brand. That last part is key: when your ads are shown on a particular site, your brand is naturally going to be associated with another brand in the user’s mind. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on the situation.

Ultimately, a whitelist or blacklist is one part of your brand safety strategy—an important part,ut not the entire strategy. Having a well-thought-out programmatic blacklist or whitelist is necessary, but not sufficient, to protect your brand and maximize the effectiveness of your programmatic campaign.

Protect your brand and improve your ROI

As with all things programmatic, it’s important to think strategically to determine how best to use whitelists and blacklists as part of your overall campaign. We take into account your brand, business goals, target audience, and any compliance requirements when we build a whitelist or blacklist for your campaign. If you’re ready to start your digital reign, contact us to find out how THRONE can help.

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