Keeping your Brand Safe

Brand safety is not something new, however it is something that constantly gets the spotlight. We keep it near and dear to our hearts and have many sleepless nights about it! Originally brand safety had really been centred around the risky content category or as we like to call it, inappropriate content. But as times continue to change and technology continues to advance, brand safety concerns change as well. We recently attended IAB’s business of digital event on Brand Safety and Integral Ad Science (IAS) was speaking there and shared some great insight into how they categorize the four “influencers” of brand safety concerns.

1. Inappropriate Content: This is the basic unsafe stuff we are all used to. From adult content websites, to extreme graphic/explicit violence, there are specific categories listed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) that are considered risky content. We won’t say these are “easy” to avoid, but this is a bit more black and white to understand why these are considered unsafe.

2. Mis-aligned Content: This is where it can get a bit grey. You may have indicated your parameters and chose only premium publishers, however an advertisement for your beach vacation resort next to an article about the dangers of sun to your skin, will likely still negatively affect your advertisement. Surrounding context matters, and can be extremely harmful to both your campaign and brand. As publishers continue to push the limits on their content, the chance of mis-aligned content is increasing as well. But keep in mind what one retailer may find unsafe another may embrace, so it’s sometimes tough waters to tread.

3. Fake News: When we say Fake News, we are talking about the “real” fake news and not the newly defined fake news. But either way this is something more and more difficult for advertisers to avoid and overcome. A lot of people ask, what really counts as “Fake News”? It is basically any site that is willfully creating and/or distributing deliberately inaccurate content as news. However, as we have seen in the last year, people are starting to bucket anything controversial into this category, which may not be considered fake, just more a differing of opinions. It is not something all marketers are avoiding but it is something they need to be aware of and let the brand decide if they want to be associated with inaccurate or controversial news.

4. The Trump Phenomenon: This is something IAS has been watching closely and have seen some very interesting insight from this since his presidential campaign started. They refer to it as the “Trump Bump” where publishers from news outlets to fashion blogs have been jumping on the trump bandwagon to monetize the increase in traffic from the general population that has been so drawn into this news. However, data from IAS shows that since the 2016 election the number of advertisers blocking Trump-related content has increased dramatically. So even though publishers are seeing an increase in traffic to their websites due to Trump headlines, they have not been able to fully monetize it due to advertisers wanting to avoid the association. The chart below, from IAS, shows the increase in advertisers that have been blocking Trump related terms on a monthly basis since election day.

So how can you protect yourself from all these brand safety issues. I am sorry to say there is no one right answer, and pair that with the constant demand for scalable cost-effective inventory it is almost impossible. But there are good technologies available that offer solutions to help avoid these issues in a programmatic landscape such as:

  • Pre-bid targeting/filtering
  • Blocking
  • Whitelists
  • Blacklists
  • Keyword lists
  • Proper audits and associations

But what is even more important are three basic tips. Know what your brand stands for and what are its limits in terms of safety and content association. Choose the right partners who you can trust and are transparent, so you can be sure you are always on the same page. Lastly, stick to your guns. If your campaigns are going against the brand safety regulations and strategies you put in place, stop and reset. There is no room for compromising when it comes to your brand reputation. Have more questions about how we are keeping your brand safe here at JUICE, check out our commitment to brand safety.