NEW YORK • As of a few weeks ago, advertisements for JPMorgan Chase were appearing on about 400,000 websites a month. It is the sort of eye-popping number that has become the norm these days for big companies that use automated tools to reach consumers online.
Now, as more and more brands find their ads popping up next to toxic content like fake news sites or offensive YouTube videos, JPMorgan has limited its display ads to about 5,000 websites it has pre-approved, said Ms Kristin Lemkau, the bank's chief marketing officer.
Surprisingly, the company is seeing little change in the cost of impressions or the visibility of its ads on the Internet, she said.
An impression is generally counted each time an ad is shown.
The change illustrates the new scepticism with which major marketers are approaching online ad platforms and the automated technology placing their brands on millions of websites.
In recent years, advertisers increasingly shunned buying ads on individual sites in favour of cheaply targeting groups of people based on browsing habits, in a process known as programmatic advertising - enabling a Gerber ad to show up on a local mother's blog or a purse in an online shopping cart to follow a person around the Internet for weeks.
But as the risks around the far reaches of the Web have been cast into stark relief, some advertisers are questioning the value of showing up on hundreds of thousands of unknown sites, and wondering whether millions of appearances actually translate into more sales.
"It's only been a few days but we haven't seen any deterioration on our performance metrics," Ms Lemkau said in an interview on Tuesday.
She added that the company had pulled ads from YouTube in the past week after reports showed other major advertisers like Verizon unintentionally appearing on videos promoting hate speech and terrorism.
If more advertisers follow JPMorgan's lead and see similar results, it could hurt operators of the smaller sites that make up the so-called long tail of the Internet, as well as advertising technology companies that profit from funnelling trillions of ad impressions from brands to consumers through systems that mimic a stock exchange, according to ad technology firm Undertone's co-founder Eric Franchi.