In 2017, marketers were told that they had to implement brand safety for all their digital and programmatic display ad campaigns. The need for marketers to urgently address brand safety was spurred by the fact that “The Times” discovered that Youtube and Google were placing their ads next to content related to political violence, extremist religious propaganda and other offensive content that greatly misaligned with their brand’s messaging, and affected their brand safety. This prompted UK advertisers to quickly suspend their advertising on the site and countless U.S. advertisers quickly followed suit. Notably, the Havas Group, responsible for managing nearly $650 million (225€ million in the UK) in digital ad spend, decided to pull their ads from Google. This promoted advertisers to question how they can ensure that their digital display ads are running alongside publisher content that most closely aligns with their consumers’ values.
There are many precautions that advertisers can take to ensure their brands remain safe in the eyes of consumers. With digital ad spend expected to reach over $117 billion in 2018, we have outlined a few important tips that advertisers should use to ensure their programmatic buys are also brand safe.
1. Partner Up
Companies like Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify and Comscore have developed formulas, algorithms and data-driven tools to prevent ads from ever appearing alongside undesirable content. Data-driven marketing companies already have developed the intelligence to ensure that an advertiser will buy ads that are brand safe. They are also continuously updating and improving this technology.
Global measurement and ad verification partners are constantly working to improve the user experience. They want to put the right content in front of the right person: someone interested in that brand, willing to purchase their offerings. They also want to ensure that brands have peace of mind with where their media budget is being used and that their content is being placed on the sites of reliable publishers. Programmatic works to generate qualified traffic so that the brand’s online presence is strengthened, values are maintained and reputations are not tarnished.
2. Invest in Private Marketplaces
In 2017, 74.5% of all domestic digital display ads ran via private marketplaces (PMP) and programmatic direct deals. By using this avenue for a media buy, advertisers know exactly who they are purchasing from and where their ad will be placed. This decision, although potentially more expensive, warrants ease of mind with ad placement. This marketplace also, just as with all programmatic buys, allows advertisers to reach their ideal customers.
It is common to hear that marketers have blacklisted sites, a result of either their own experience was poor or it has a negative reputation. However, the number of “bad sites” is constantly rising and there is no way to constantly keep up todate. An alternative option is to whitelist sites. You can find sites that are safe to run ads on and compile a list of options that you can then use when preparing a campaign or a media buy. If this seems like an overwhelming task, there are exchanges that have an intense inventory approval process. These exchanges require sites to pass tests such as human approval or pre-approval of a new relationship with a site or app within existing relationships. If a site doesn’t pass the test, they are not able to sell their inventory on the exchange. This is a great step to take to ensure brand safety as you are confident in the sites you are choosing to place your ads.
Ensuring Brand Safety can Feel Overwhelming
Billions of digital display ad transactions occur everyday which means brand safety can become very overwhelming. There are many precautions that brands can take to ensure that their ads end up in an ideal location. However, what is most important to remember is to use common sense. If an deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Consumers will find your ad more appealing if it is displayed on the right site next to the right content. So, when choosing where to spend your programmatic media dollars, take the time to ensure you have done research on where your ad is is going to be placed and don’t forget to use the three tips above to get your head above water when it comes to keeping your brand safe.