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When Good Ad Targeting Goes Wrong

When Good Ad Targeting Goes Wrong

Or Is Michelob Trying to Sell to Two Year Olds?

I’m over 21. And I like beer. And I’m a parent. But I do not like beer commercials while my son is watching the Mother Goose club endless torrent of hell. My YouTube page looks like this – just in case you were wondering what I watch 24/7.


Imagine my surprise when at the end of “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes”, this lovely commercial pops up:


Maybe they ran the ad because they know parents need a beer after the 3,000th play of Ram Sam Sam, but it’s poorly targeted and it’s not even one of their better commercial.

So why did this happen?

Michelob Ultra was most likely targeting on two basic demographics: Males, Ages 21+. Both of which are 100% correct – I am both a male, AND over 21 – but the error here is Michelob did not add a layer of content-type targeting for the online ad.

Google is also missing this layer in their Alcohol Advertising Policy. Alcohol ads can run on any video on YouTube, so long as they are targeting registered users 21+. But this misplaced ad proves that Google’s alcohol advertising policy is insufficient. An ad for Michelob Ultra (or Bud Light Lime, for that matter) should not be able to run on content that’s in the family or children’s category.

For reference, YouTube ads can be content targeted based on any of these criteria:

  • Keyword: Ads can be targeted by a user’s search terms or the content in a watched video (this targeting is similar to Google AdWords).
  • Custom Content Packs: Custom groups of channels or videos hand-selected by our media specialists.
  • Single Picks: Advertisers can target individual YouTube videos, categories, or channels.

I’m not against alcohol advertising, but I would like to see some extra thought put into the targeting of adult products.

This just seems like a Doh moment.

Nick Lindauer
Nick is the vice president, client services and operations at Forthea. He’s been working in internet marketing since 2002, when – ironically – he answered an ad in the newspaper. When he’s not at work, he’s off spending time with his family, working on his house, building furniture, cooking on his two Big Green Eggs & brewing hot sauce.


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