Over 50 companies have pulled their advertising from Bill O’Reilly’s cable show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” over accusations of sexual harassment and large settlements of many of these claims. However, O’Reilly’s website continues to carry ads from several large national marketers, including Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V.’s (NYSE: FCAU) Jeep.
The trouble these advertisers and others face with sites like O’Reilly’s and ultra-conservative site Breitbart is that much of the advertising bought to reach consumers online is done via programmatic systems. These target advertisers through software systems that pick sites by their demographics as much as by their content. An advertiser can be represented on a site without its knowledge. This was an issue early on with the Breitbart website advertising boycott.
A New York Times article said $13 million had been paid out to five women to settle charges of “sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior” in connection with O’Reilly.
The basic functions of programmatic advertising are not an iron-clad excuse, however. Advertisers and their agencies can block websites from programmatic ad purchases. For some reason, Cisco, which is using the O’Reilly site to promote its Citrix software, and Jeep, which is advertising its 2017 Grand Cherokee, have not done so.
A further look at BillOReilly.com shows that Ralph Lauren and the Queens Boulevard Lincoln dealer are advertisers. So are Pier 1, Air France, GoDaddy, Feeding America and watch retailer Tourneau.
Advertisers have left O’Reilly’s cable show for reputation reasons and as a protest against his behavior. Oddly, many companies have not done the same online.