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The Drum

Emerging channels, privacy and safety must be brand priorities in 2021

DoubleVerify share three interrelated trends brands should be aware of as they build innovative strategies for 2021 and beyond

Following the first lockdown, consumers more than doubled their daily time spent reading and streaming online content, a DoubleVerify/Sapio study found. But consumption habits have not only surged in recent months, they have fundamentally shifted. From investing in connected TV (CTV) devices, to signing up for subscription services and creating TikTok accounts, consumers have unlocked new ways to be informed and entertained. This provides a significant opportunity for advertisers to rethink how they engage their audience and leverage emerging channels.

New trends in 2021, however, are not without challenges. Privacy regulations and cookie deprecation will require advertisers to reassess targeting strategies that rely on third-party cookies. Complex, ongoing news cycles — often exacerbated by an increase of misinformation around complex topics such as Brexit and Covid-19 — will make brand safety critical.

New programs to engage consumers and leverage emerging channels present much opportunity, but they must be carefully considered. With this in mind, here are three interrelated trends brands should be aware of as they build innovative strategies for 2021 and beyond.

1. Take advantage of the opportunities offered by CTV

CTV households (those with smart TVs or streaming devices connected to a big screen) are expected to grow 82% by 2023, according to research from Innovid. This is reinforced by findings from DoubleVerify and Sapio that show 44% of consumers are using CTV devices more since the beginning of the pandemic.

CTV offers the creative potential of the living room’s biggest screen, but CTV — and digital video measurement more broadly — is not without its challenges. When it comes to protection on digital video, current inventory quality controls suffer from a number of gaps. Less than 40% of video impressions are eligible for post-bid blocking, according to DoubleVerify data. This challenge is most acute in CTV and mobile app environments, where measurement technologies are not widely adopted and blocking isn’t possible.

But solutions are being developed to address these issues. New measurement capabilities reduce the delivery of non-compliant inventory and provide a comprehensive view of video campaigns to give advertisers the same clarity and confidence advertisers are used to on traditional TV.

2. Adopt privacy-friendly approaches to ad targeting

Over half of all internet users are concerned about how their private information is used by companies, according to Global Web Index reporting. This sentiment, alongside data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the decision by most web browsers to sunset the use of third-party cookies, necessitates a shift away from cookie-based audience targeting.

Consumers, though, still want to see relevant ads. DoubleVerify research shows 69% of users are more likely to look at an ad if it’s relevant to the content they are viewing. New contextual targeting technology, based on semantics and machine learning, helps advertisers reach their audiences in a relevant and privacy-friendly way, so they can identify the most appropriate content against which to display an ad. For instance, consumers may see an ad for running shoes placed alongside a news article about an upcoming marathon.

Contextual targeting will allow advertisers to scale against the relevant audiences in a way that benefits the entire ecosystem from consumers to publishers.

3. Build a suitable brand safety profile

In 2020, brands navigated rapidly evolving news cycles, covering complicated topics like Covid-19 and social justice issues. A DV/Harris Poll study found that nearly 90% of consumers feel brands bear responsibility for ensuring their ads run beside content that is safe. With Brexit and mass-vaccination programmes continuing in early 2021, brands must be vigilant when it comes to appearing alongside inflammatory news and misinformation, while still supporting trusted news outlets.

To protect their brand without limiting scale, advertisers can build a brand safety profile that is tailored to their brand’s unique suitability and safety needs. A strong profile will maintain a brand safety floor by establishing the content a brand wants to avoid under all circumstances; ensure ads are brand suitable so they align with brand values; and make responsive adjustments based on current events and news cycles.

What’s next?

Brands can reach new audiences while protecting and building their reputation by taking advantage of emerging channels such as CTV, adopting a privacy-friendly approach to targeting and creating a brand safety profile. We’ve weathered a storm in 2020, and now is the time to challenge the status quo — to rethink, re-engage and re-establish campaigns that will help build a better industry for all.

As part of our Predictions event taking place 25 - 29 Jan, we held a fireside chat with DoubleVerify and Channel 4 exploring how brands can protect their inventory in new emerging channels like CTV in order to maximize campaign performance. You can watch the fascinating dicussion here.