Ads for Singtel, P&G, POSB and Toyota found on unlicensed streaming websites highlight failing of automated media buying

Ad for Singtel as it appeared on sports streaming site VIP League last week

Ad for Singtel on sports streaming site VIP League last week

Advertisements for bluechip companies including Singtel, Procter & Gamble, POSB Bank and Toyota have appeared on unlicensed content streaming sites, raising questions about the targeting limitations of programmatic buying, the placement of ads automatically by computers.

Mumbrella was alerted to a series of banner ads running on sites that illegally stream live sports events, torrent site VIP League and, a search engine for links to streamed content, last week.

Each of the brand owners Mumbrella approached for comment say these ad placements were unintentional, and occurred despite brand safety measures in place.

A P&G spokesman told Mumbrella that because of the nature of the internet, preventing errantly placed online ads in the future would “continue to be a challenge.”

The ads include a promotion for a POSB credit card, an internet deal from Singtel and a brand ad for “Swiss quality” Swiss Air.

Swiss Air and POSB

Ads for POSB and Swiss Air on VIP League last week

A banner ad for Ambi Pur car freshener appeared on with the tagline ‘Smell the victory, not the football sweat’.

Ambi pur ad on asdfasdfasdf website

Ambi pur ad on website

A P&G spokesman told Mumbrella that the company has instructed its media agency, MediaCom, to remove the ad.

“We make every effort to ensure that our placements are consistent with our brand’s equity – and in this case, we do not believe Ambi Pur’s brand equity is consistent with the site, which is why we gave the instruction to remove ad,” he said.

He added: “We are working with our agencies and partners to help ensure that these things do not happen again – although we also know realistically, that because of how big the online world is – this will continue to be a challenge.”

Singtel, which has been running ads on, said that the rogue placements had occurred because the websites had not been placed on a blacklist of sites to avoid.

A company spokeswoman told Mumbrella: “As new sites are constantly introduced, we regularly update our exclusion list to ensure that we only run advertising on relevant and appropriate websites. We are reviewing the process to ensure that advertising only appears on suitable sites.”

DBS, which owns POSB, also said they would be reviewing its list of websites to be avoided, and that the ad had been removed from VIP League. The bank, which has just called its regional media business to pitch, and Singtel both use Havas Media to plan and buy their media.

A spokeswoman told Mumbrella: “We avoid illegal websites as well as those that feature inappropriate content such as violence, mature content and gambling. In the event that a DBS/POSB ad appears in an inappropriate or illegal website, we would remove the ad and place the specific site on the blocked list.”

Griffith University, which targets potential students in Asia, described the placement of its ads on a sports streaming site as “disappointing”.

The Queensland-based public research university pointed out that the responsibility for online ad placement lies with its media agency and also Google, as it uses the internet giant’s ad display network.

Griffith University ad on XXXXXXXXXX

Griffith University ad promoting advanced courses

In a statement, the university said:

On behalf of Griffith University, Ikon communications agency takes responsibility for the environments in which advertising is placed. All precautions are taken to ensure that the brand remains on reputable websites, and the agency deploys multiple layers of targeting in attempts to prevent occurrences like these. Priority is placed on avoiding unsavoury sites and content above that of buying efficiencies and/or effectiveness.

It is disappointing to learn that, despite the brand safety measures and due diligence deployed as standard, GriffithUniversity’s ad has appeared on this site. The website in question is a part of the Google Display Network and it is the responsibility of Google to ensure the content they run our ads against is legal and brand safe.

Now that this ad placement has been brought to our attention, we have blocked this specific site and engaged with Google to understand how this has occurred and what further technologies will be implemented to avoid this situation taking place in the future.

Toyota has been running a campaign for its InTouch navigational system on VIP League. A banner appears on the same page as an ad for subscription-based Aussie rules football site, which carries the Toyota logo.

Toyota ad on VIP League

The company, whose media is handled by Dentsu, had not responded to Mumbrella’s request for comment at the time of publishing.

Global eye wear firm Transition Optical is another company that is using streaming sites as advertising platforms, in this case for its ‘Life in the best light’ campaign on

Transitions lenses 'Life in the best light' ad

Transitions lenses ad on

The company acknowledged the ad placement via its newly appointed public relations agency WE, but has not commented on the matter. Transitions’ media is handled by Dentsu Aegis Network agency Vizeum.


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