Reading the headlines over the past 24 months have spotlighted the strain in the relationship between the digital advertising industry and the consumer. Not only have consumers become wary of industry practices, but data breaches and a growing trend of unsafe and offensive content on digital channels have paved the way for an increase in scrutiny by regulators and advertisers globally. Advertisers are on high alert, because it only takes one brand safety exposure – aligning one’s brand with unintended negative associations – to damage brand equity.
In the above-mentioned scenarios – regardless of industry affiliation all involved lose. Brands waste their money and expose themselves to extreme risk with consumers when they are associated with unsavoury content. Platforms and agencies lose the brand investment and the trust of their advertisers when issues are exposed. Thankfully, the silver lining is the renewed attention on brand safety.
To address the brand safety challenge, marketers are adopting context-based targeting practices to identify and actively avoid specific content. What’s become apparent through an uptake in adoption of context is how it’s not only a useful tool for avoiding unsafe content, but also for identifying brand suitable content. Brand suitable content is the content that amplifies advertising by aligning the context of the page with the ad’s message. These opportunities can be planned or opportunistic.
Optimizing for suitability means more than safety
Brand safety should always be top of mind for advertisers, especially in today’s digital world, but that’s table stakes. Deeming an environment ‘safe’ doesn’t necessarily mean that is the optimal place to serve an ad. Brand suitability takes this into account and not only focuses on safe environments but those that welcome the ad.
For example, if you are trying to sell flashlights, think of how much more impactful your message would be if it was against content related to camping or kids sleepovers or even better – taking advantage of a major trending story like a city-wide black out versus everyday news. A contextually aware placement like this signals that the brand is in control of their message and that they are culturally relevant.
This notion however, requires brands to determine what ‘brand suitable’ means to them -understanding what content is favourable and beneficial to the brand.
Defining the risk profile
The first step in defining the risk profile is acknowledging that every brand has its own appetite for risk. What’s off-limits for one brand may be fair game for another. This is why context-based content is becoming the gold standard. Custom context solutions have advanced past traditional brand safety solutions that used self-assigned URL keywords to try to ascertain whether entire sites were appropriate or not. Advertisers can now set their own standards then evaluate their standards against the actual content on each page to determine whether or not it is appropriate. This delivers a more granular level of control and opportunity for the advertiser.
Suitability increases relevance
With their brand suitability profile established, brands can confidently plan and execute their programmatic campaigns knowing their ads are only appearing in ideal environments. And this leads to benefits for advertisers, platforms and consumers like an increase in campaign effectiveness and streamlined consumer experiences. Engaging with a consumer in an environment that is relevant increases the likelihood that they will engage with you.
Brand suitable environments have the added effect of turning the internet into a place where advertising no longer feels out of place or disruptive. Instead of a stream of irrelevant display ads and busy marketing messages, brands can offer experiences that are native and personalized.
There’s more to context than brand safety
Chances are most brands are already on board with brand safety solutions. Forward thinkers are building on those initiatives contextually aware brand-suitable content to amplify campaigns and deliver more relevant user experiences. Protecting the brand from unsafe content is only a small piece of the puzzle.
The whole solution means elevating campaigns to new levels of relevance and meaning.
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