Google ad ban: IAB Australia urges brands to “get their hands dirty” with brand safety

IAB Australia CEO Vijay Solanki urges brands to get their hands dirty with brand safety

Australia is the most recent market to join in the Google ad ban fray, with big spending brands pausing activity on the platform over fears around brand safety.

According to reports, Toyota and many other top spending brands said they were pausing spend on YouTube, joining a sleugh of brands in the UK that have done the same.

The concerns around brand safety on YouTube first emerged after news reports in the UK revealed that major brands were having ads served against content about religious extremists and terrorism.

Since then, brands in both Australia and the US have also stopped spending, urging Google to make better reassurances around brand safety.

However, the IAB in Australia has said this shows that brands need to start better understanding how media is planned and booked but shouldn’t be deterred in buying online media.

Vijay Solanki, chief executive of IAB Australia, said: “Brand safety is nothing new and it should absolutely be a top priority for all brands and advertisers. Brand safety will mean different things to different advertisers so I would urge all marketers to take a look at their options and make sure they understand how their media is planned and booked.

Marc Pritchard has challenged marketers to ‘get into the weeds’ when it comes to digital and marketing and he’s spot on. Marketers should get closer to their agencies and publishers and get their hands ‘dirty’ understanding the process and the opportunities for their brands with online advertising. But responsibility does not fall to brands alone – all four corners of the industry need to get involved (agencies, publishers, technology companies and brands) to ensure brand safety.

Most publishers have a range of measures in place to support brand safety including white and black lists for use via programmatic trading and filters which allow advertisers to really lock down their placements,” he said.

According to Solanki, the IAB had identified four key recommendations for advertisers to protect their brand.

  • Choose your partners carefully – look for ones that offer choice, transparency and third party verification system
  • Know what the ‘right place’ is for your brand
  • Talk regularly to your partners (agencies, tech providers and publishers) on an ongoing basis
  • Look at the data relating to your brand and the environments in which they are shown regularly

The consensus across APAC around whether brands should be pausing on YouTube or not has been mixed, though Havas in APAC has come forward in saying it would continue its relationship with Google and GroupM Malaysia chief exec Girish Menon issued similar advice to Solanki, arguing that the crisis was nothing new.

Google has responded to the claims, issuing posts and guidance around brand safety and Google UK MD Ronan Harris said in an interview with The Drum that the industry needs to work together on better standards.

“The conversation needs to be about the standard we want to set ourselves as an industry – going for a high standard, not a low common denominator – and then driving everyone toward it,” he said.

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