3 Tips to Ensure Brand Safety for all Your Programmatic Media Buys

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.

3. Whitelisting
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.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: How the Industry is Solving Domain Spoofing and Ad Fraud with Ads.txt & Private Marketplace

In 2018 the ad tech industry, and especially the top DSPs, are going to focus on improving inventory quality for programmatic media, as seen in our top ten trends you need to know about programmatic this year.

Download the full infographic here

What Does Inventory Quality Mean?

Over the past few years, the quantity of fraudulent ads has decreased greatly as the ability to monitor and prevent ad fraud has improved. However, there was still a significant room for improvement. Much of the development that has been made is for desktops ads. As the digital ad buying process continues to become more transparent and ad inventory quality improves, focus now needs to be centered on mobile and video ads. Video ads are extremely enticing to ad fraudsters due to high CPMs. The importance of eliminating fraud and enhancing the quality of ad inventory benefits both buyers and publishers.

On the buyer’s side, there are two major reason to ensure quality ad inventory: brand safety and media waste. If a buyer purchases fraudulent ad space and their brand is presented in a negative environment, it can greatly affect their brand image. In regard to media waste, if an ad is bought and only viewed by bots, instead of human eyes, the media spend is wasted on false impressions. Purchasing quality ad inventory ensures that an ad shows up on the site it is supposed to be published on and that human eyes are viewing it.

Publishers are primarily concerned with ensuring a quality customer experience. Customer experiences are deterred through malware or annoying ads. If the ad exchange is not properly screened, malware can arrive on a publisher’s site. If the consumer clicks on the ad, it will infect their browser, creating a very negative customer experience. Customers do not like when ads refresh, flash or are otherwise annoying. Publishers need to ensure that this is not occurring with their advertisements.

Publishers and buyers need to work together to become a trusted source of quality inventory which involves the following:

  1. Publishers sharing information with one another about negative buying experiences.
  2. DSPs need to educate their advertisers, that buying ad space from many different sources opens up the door for ad fraud.
  3. Create realistic standards for viewability. It is unrealistic to set 100% viewability goals.

Solutions for Fraud and Domain Spoofing

Private Marketplace Deals

Ad space was traditionally bought through open marketplaces. This is a process in which multiple media owners offer up their ad inventory to multiple buyers. All of the buyers compete to have their ad space placed on a page and the highest bidder wins.
Private marketplaces are auctions that are only open to select advertisers through an invitation-only format. Some of these entail only one publisher offering up ad space, others have a few. Before the auction, buyers and sellers negotiate a deal. Each deal is given a unique ID and advertisers bid on that deal only – inventory that does not meet the deal will not be bid on. This marketplace structure requires more work however, it is much more transparent. Buyers will know where their ad is being placed such as the URL of the website their ad will be shown on. The marketplace ensures a more transparent ad buying process and ensures that buyers ads show up exactly where they want them to, reaching the right audience in the right place.  

DSPs Are Implementing Ads.txt

IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) has released the latest mechanism that boosts inventory quality and makes the ad buying process less risky. In September, IAB released the authorized digital sellers or ads.txt. This is a simple, flexible method for publishers and distributors to clearly state which companies are authorized to use their digital inventory.

Companies drop a text file on their website that lists the different companies authorized to sell inventory on their site. This will enable buyers to see which programmatic firms have authorization to sell ad space on specific websites, ensuring validity in their purchase. The upkeep for this process is also simple. Someone will have to monitor additions to an ads.txt list to stay up to date with authorized sellers.

If you haven’t already, there is no time like 2018 to get on the programmatic bandwagon.  If you need to get started Digilant University has all the information you need to get up to speed and get going.  Need more information you can also reach out to us here.

Like what you see? Join the 500+ clients that have partnered with Digilant.