The brand safety challenge in digital advertising

The question of media quality will surely be top of mind for advertisers in 2020,

Was your ad delivered in a brand safe environment and how do you know for sure? With the proliferation of digital media channels and platforms, this is the first question many advertisers need to address even before they look at other campaign metrics, such as reach, frequency, and conversions.

The question of media quality will surely be top of mind for advertisers in 2020, and one of their first concerns should be brand safety. Put simply, our conversation with marketers and their agencies in Southeast Asia reflect a global trend: they do not want their branded content and commercial offers to be placed on unsavoury websites and apps, or adjacent to nasty or negative news stories.

Media spend and strategy have always been the preserve of the CMO office. In the old days, this was more straightforward. Creative and buying teams could take six months to work on a 30-second TV ad, which would then run on a limited number of linear TV channels. Monitoring the brand creative was relatively easy. Yet everything changed once the web exploded into millions of different opportunities to connect with consumers.

Today, a negative brand safety incident can create global negative consumer blowback, with the Internet enabling people to share these stories in a nanosecond. Brands that advertise on false, negative or inflammatory content websites are likely to be viewed poorly. The consumer viewpoint is often: “You are the ones supporting them, therefore I am going to hold you accountable”.

This new digital reality has created an interesting shift in an increasingly complex transparency and accountability model. It’s still the responsibility of the CMO office to manage the brand’s reputation, but doing so has become far more complex. They have to clearly define what suitability means for their brands, understand the new platform landscape and feel assured that their message is safe in a fast-paced publishing cycle.

Even though there are now solutions for brands and their agencies to evaluate digital media spend in real-time, we believe that 2020 will herald a much-needed shift in the way advertisers buy and evaluate media, with a heightened emphasis on trust and transparency.

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