A genuinely goofy Jif promotion, and a special ad network for LGBTQ publishers

Jif looks a GIF source in the mouth

J.M Smucker’s peanut butter brand Jif has partnered with looping image maker GIPHY to create a peanut butter that should finally put an end to the controversial debate about how the latter’s “GIF” product should be pronounced (it’s with a hard “G,” you heathens).

Currently listed on Amazon, the jars use Jif’s red, blue and green colour scheme and typography, except they swap out the brand name for the word “Gif.” The label includes a description of a GIF (“animated looping images”) accompanied by the words “Hard G pronunciation.” A message on the lid, meanwhile, reads “If you’ve ever called a GIF a ‘Jif,’ we forgive you.”

The initiative is timed to coincide with National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day on March 1.

“At GIPHY, we know there’s only one Jif and it’s peanut butter. If you’re looking for all the GIFs, there’s only one GIPHY,” said GIPHY founder and CEO Alex Chung in a release. “If you’re a soft G, please visit Jif.com. If you’re a hard G, thank you, we know you’re right. Whether you like your Gs hard or soft, let’s all share some fun and let peanut butter unite us in saying GIF and eating Jif.”

To promote the peanut butter line, GIPHY has also created a dedicated line of .gif files available at a dedicated website (see a sample below). The jars are limited edition, so we suspect they’ll sell out in <cough> a GIF.

Mindshare creates a special private marketplace for LGBTQ publishers

Mindshare has directly addressed the problematic issue of keyword exclusion lists in programmatic buying that could prevent ads from reaching legitimate LGBTQ publishers—whose content might be incorrectly flagged as objectionable or harmful by automated systems.

The WPP network aggregated 12 publishers, including The Advocate, Out and Them to create the new specific private marketplace (PMP), with Skyy Vodka as its charter advertiser. According to a report in AdAge, the LGBTQ PMP ensured that ads in the vodka brand’s new “Proudly American” campaign appeared across LGBTQ publishers.

The model arose from the automated systems designed to prevent brand ads from appearing alongside objectionable or harmful content. One of the byproducts of the system, however, is that articles using words such as “gay” and “lesbian” can be flagged regardless of context, meaning ads can be prevented from reaching credible media outlets.

Mindshare USA CEO Adam Gerhart described it as a “growing industry issue” that presents an “imminent danger” to the industry and society as a whole. The blacklists, he said, have become “so pervasive, and black and white, that the application of them has started blocking advertisers they might want to be associated with.”

According to a study conducted last year by the brand safety company CHEQ, nearly three-quarters (73%) of safe stories on The Advocate and PinkNews were flagged as brand unsafe.

“This is not done maliciously,” CHEQ CEO Guy Tytunovich told Fast Company last year. “This happens because many verification companies don’t have the technological capability to distinguish between positive LGBTQ content and potentially negative content like pornography or hate speech. So many times they ‘play it safe’ by blacklisting LGBTQ-related terms, and the collateral damage is that LGBTQ content creators are struggling to monetize.”

Fraudsters using Ads.txt to steal from advertisers 

One of the ad industry’s answers to ad fraud is being used by fraudsters to perpetrate ad fraud.

Integral Ad Science issued what it called “a threat alert” this week about 404bot, which generates fake browser data and creates fake URLs to steal advertisers’ media spend. IAS estimates that the 404bot cost the industry more than $15 million dollars. While that’s a relatively small amount from a massive part of the advertising ecosystem, it’s how 404bot operates that is most disconcerting—using Ads.txt files which were created to protect advertisers from buying fake inventory.

IAB Technology Lab started Ads.txt (authorized Digital Sellers initiative) to increase the transparency of online ad inventory. However 404bot capitalizes on unaudited Ads.txt files. “The implementation of Ads.txt by publishers thus far has shown a dramatic decline in bad actors being able to abuse the ecosystem, but fraudsters are constantly evolving and are now capitalizing on unaudited Ads.txt files,” said IAS.

“The main signature of the 404bot is extensive domain spoofing, where URLs are spoofed at the browser level—meaning that the data from the browsers are faked. To avoid the vulnerabilities exhibited by past bots, the 404bot ensured their spoofed URLs would not be easily detectable to the human eye, allowing the bot to slip under the radar.”

Chris Powell