With the steady increase in extremist content, fake news, and brand advertising appearing next to unsavoury content, brand safety has now been thrust fully into the limelight. The immediacy of social media makes it far easier for people to spot and share “campaigns that have gone wrong”, which has resulted in brand safety being brought to the attention of the masses. What was once a problem discussed solely within the advertising industry has now become national front-page news, resulting in many people asking: how are these ads showing up in inappropriate placements?
To answer that question we first need to explore how advertisers and agencies purchase media today. If an advertiser’s goal is to find target customers, then the advertising media purchased will be based on audience demographics rather than a specific site buy. This is especially true in programmatic advertising, where impressions can be sourced from huge volumes of inventory held by ad exchanges and networks. When media is purchased in this fashion, there is limited control over what context the advertising will appear in.
For example, if you’re targeting men between 20-39 years old, who have been looking at buying a new car and they then go on to visit an extremist website, a brand’s advertisement may show. It’s important to remember that different brands have different definitions of what they consider “risky” for their brand; for example, a family-friendly brand will have a much more conservative approach to brand safety than a gambling brand.
Here are 5 tips to protect your brand online:
- Page-level. Domain-level protection is not enough. Different web pages on a website have different content topics, with different levels of risk. Make sure you’re getting page-level protection for true coverage.
- It’s not binary. Don’t rely on just one or two methods to protect your brand. Use a combination of blocked and acceptable domains, keywords, and page-level analysis for a fully comprehensive solution.
- Don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure your blocked and keyword lists are up to date – and review them on a regular basis. As new scandals, international crises, and other brand concerns crop up, you’ll likely want to add new keywords to your list.
- Programmatic performance enhancer. Leverage predictive targeting in demand-side platforms (DSPs) to ensure your ads appear on safe environments. With predictive targeting segments, you can target away from risky content; only paying or bidding on impressions that meet your brand safety requirements.
- Blocking. To ensure more complete protection from risky content, add the ability to block impressions to your brand safety solution. This will ensure your ads are prevented from serving near risky content. Remember, you’ll need to use third-party creative ad servers to block in real-time.
Brand safety isn’t a new problem, at IAS we have been building effective brand safety solutions since 2009, but new threats can appear unexpectedly. Now that the industry has refocused its gaze on brand safety, what’s next for this topic? Due to brands, agencies and the wider consumer sitting up and taking notice of the extent of risk that brands advertising online can be exposed to, hopefully we will see the industry coming together to more proactively address this challenge and understand how it can be tackled.
Taanya Manglik, Marketing Manager EMEA, Integral Ad Science.