When the Globe and Mail called up numerous Canadians arts organizations to ask why their ads appeared on controversial news website Breitbart.com, all of them expressed surprise that they had.
On the Globe's call list was Mirvish Productions, the Stratford Festival, children’s charity Plan International Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
How did their ads end up on the site?
They all use Google AdWords "programmatic advertising," which targets specific demographics across their ad network, not specific websites.
“This is a risk of programmatic advertising; you’re bidding on inventory based on a set of parameters; sometimes, that inventory or those parameters land you somewhere you’d rather not be,” said John Karastamatis, a spokesman with the Toronto-based theatre company Mirvish Productions, whose coming presentation of The Book of Mormon was advertised on Breitbart. “We did not know [about the placement],” he added. “We have now added [Breitbart] to our list of excluded sites for our advertising.”
The Stratford Festival also added Breitbart to their excluded sites.
Other companies whose programmatic ads ended up on Breitbart, according to the Globe, were "the Toronto Blue Jays, Nissan, Porter Airlines, American Express Canada, GoodLife Fitness, HSBC, Ross Petty Productions and Bank of Nova Scotia."