Importance of brand safety and best practices to safeguard your brand

Internet is habitat to numerous sort of content- the news, informative, technical, education, entertainment and many more. With these varieties of content, every domain looks for the web page that could deliver their message but not every web page does that. There are billions of websites that could place your ads with content on their pages that may or may not align with your brand. And if anything like this happens, can tarnish your brand image. This why marketers are now concerned about “safety of their brands across all digital media channels, especially Youtube and Facebook (as they involve user-created content).

There was a YouTube controversy a few months back, wherein the big brands like Verizon, AT&T etc have pulled all their ads from Youtube as their ads were shown alongside extremist content (Reports here). While ads appearing on same page as with the unwanted and maligning content came as a surprise but it was also found that there have been extremist websites that sell ad space using Google services. These concerns land marketers in a position where they should trust digital advertising and be assured of their brand image.

As the programmatic advertising is on roar, there are reports that blame advertising agencies for such content ad placements, as some agencies try to take a part of share from ad budget. Earlier clients directly connect with publishers for ads but now there are various middle parties such as demand-side platforms, software providers, agencies that promise organic traffic, brand safety and better viewability tracking.

Programmatic advertising is more cost effective than buying pricey ads on some of the well-known websites, as it permits buyers to target customers over all sites on basis of their shopping behaviour, browsing history and geographic location. But this does not allow full control of ads to the marketers to track as to where their ads will show up: for example, marketers could not control if their ads are placed on sites featuring pirated content, pornography, videos supporting terrorists, false news, or channels where the traffic is falsely created via software.

Yes, programmatic is the biggest offender that drives brands at risk. Due to this reason, the marketers and advertisers now consider Real Time Bidding and “Publisher direct” over programmatic advertising so that their brands are not placed together with the toxic content. The RTB i.e. impressions focused tool provides transparency about from whom and what you are buying. Buying anything privately maximizes the probability of being in a brand safe position. In direct deals, buyers are in negotiation with publishers and know as to where their ad will be placed.

All said so far, let us list the concerns that keep your brand safety at stake:

Misalignment of ads with the web page content. At times, the ad appears together with the objectionable content leading to distrust of consumers with the brands. This misalignment is due to programmatic, which is although automated but can escort to loss of revenue and loyal consumers.

Your ad placed next to or in line with the fake news (with similar content) can show your brand in a negative light. One of the best example of this can be a pizza shop’s ad is placed next to pizzagate, which definitely makes no sense. Although now, the policy have been looked upon and modified as adsense now avoid those website that misrepresent or hide information.

One of the biggest nightmare for any brand could be their business placed near the extremist content that portrays hateful views, religious viewpoints, racist content and similar. This certainly will not do well for brand image.

Behavioural targeting can also be dangerous to brands as in this context the algorithm focuses on your ad rather than the web page content. This lets the ads to appear anywhere and at times user can also see the ads following them on various websites.

Streaming service providers such as Youtube is one of the brand image making destinations as it contains user-created content and have a huge user base.

Having said these, let us now discuss why brand safety is important.

It is important for the brands to draw organic consumers through the ads placed on multiple digital channels so that they are assured of positive outcomes. The sole purpose of advertising is to bring positive out of ads and if the content is aligned with the irrelevant and profane content, it imposes a black mark on the brand integrity.

The brand placement environment is a matter of priority for marketers as it assists them in overcoming challenges such as media quality, integrated data and media buying solution, data ownership and leakage, accurate estimation of returns on ad spend, economic transparency and digital media dependency.

How does one any brand get there?

Professional marketers and brand advertisers understand very well that building the brands reputation is not that easy. It calls for a lot of money, skilled talent and a huge amount of time. Certain groups namely FMCG or packaged goods, these companies spent a quarter of their overall budget only on marketing activities. But if these brands opt for automated marketing processes like programmatic advertising, they can lose their control over the monitoring of their ad placements giving way to something worse as damaging their brand status.

As the brands spend and invest in extensive resources, they cannot simply afford the risk of damage caused by improper ad placements.

Solution for Brand Safety

Brands and businesses need to focus on quality rather than quantity. Let’s take example of YouTube- every minute, there is a huge number of user-generated content is uploaded and it is difficult for Google to police all the published content in real time. And thus marketers should concentrate on quality ad placements in collaboration with trusted publishers. This quality safe strategy guarantee a brand safe surrounding for the ads. Brands in partnerships with reputed publishers can be assured of and can track their ad placement locations. The transparency provided by publishers gives a confidence to brands about building their positive reputation. Also, with this brands are assured of better returns on their inventories.

Best practices to shelter your brand reputation

Set clear goals regarding brand promotion– Be clear what is that you are looking for from your brand. List the types of content you feel, can damage your brand and make sure to track the process defined to achieve these goals.

Be selective in deciding about direct publishers or agency for your ad placements- As described earlier about how automated ad placement process can affect your brand, make sure to choose a reputed and reliable programmatic platform or direct publisher for your advertising strategy. Selecting from these two would help in determining where you want your ads to appear, what type of target audience you are focusing on and also determines the tools that need to be used to achieve your goals. During this decisive stage, check and avoid the blacklisted publishers. These publishers may try to attract you with low pricing and rigorous marketing but can keep your brand at stake.

Always keep an eye on campaigns in real time as this would help you in maximizing the results. With real-time monitoring tools, you can track if your ads are not placed on the compelling content. You can then take immediate action by removing the ad from the improper placement and make amendments to proper placements of ads on web pages. Try looking for third-party analytics tools so that you can track and check data such as sites and pages before publishing, assuring you of ads being placed near to the relevant content.

Excluding negative targets– while setting up ad campaigns, you have the privilege to keep aside the negative targets (you can use keywords that match to negative targets while excluding from campaigns), in order to make most out of your brand. This way your ad will be displayed where you want it to be.

Premium inventory is the utmost feasible option if brand safety is your major concern. Going with premium inventories mean that your brand is not on a display at unsafe web pages and domains.

What’s next then?

Your brands integrity and identity is extremely precious to keep at risk. And thus, this is the right time to address the concerns towards brand safety. Considering quality placements over and above programmatic buys can assist brands in sheltering the most crucial bond between customers and brand and maintaining trust over the years.

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