• 22 May 2017

    With greater focus on extremist material, fake news and brand advertising appearing next to unsavoury content, brand safety has again been thrust fully into the limelight. The immediacy of social media makes it far easier for people to spot and share “campaigns that have gone wrong,” resulting in brand safety now being brought to the attention of the masses. What was once a problem discussed solely amongst the digital advertising industry, now has become national front-page news.

    When people explain brand safety, they typically use an example of how things go wrong in a display campaign. One classic given example is that an ad for a family-focused brand appears on a website with adult content. Another commonly quoted example is that an ad for an airline runs beside a news article about a plane crash.

    Careless insertion of an ad could start a public relations firestorm and ultimately damage a brand’s image and reputation. These examples are vivid and easy to understand, but they can make brand safety sound simpler than it is. First of all, a major brand safety misconception must be addressed by brands.

    The top misconception around brand safety that we hear is that brand safety is just about setting up a list of blocked domains and this ensures your brand’s online safety.

    This is one approach to enforcing brand safety -  simply draw up a list of websites and mobile apps that you know will have content that your brand will deem inappropriate and then avoid buying impressions from any properties on that list. While this approach has some merit, it also has several serious drawbacks:

    Lack of precision: If you block an entire domain because some of its pages are unsavoury, you lose out on the scale you could achieve with other, high-quality pages in that same domain.
    Continual manual update: A blocked list has to be constantly expanded as new properties are being created every day.
    Domain spoofing: Bad actors know their website is on your list and will fraudulently sell it under a name you trust instead.

    With fake news and extremist sites dominating the headlines, protecting your brand is more important than ever. Verification providers are able to help protect your campaigns from unsafe environments in the planning stage, as well as during the campaign.

    Here are 5 tips to protect your brand online:

    • Page-level. Domain-level protection is not enough. Different web pages on a website have different content topics, with different levels of risk. Make sure you’re getting page-level protection for true coverage.
    • It’s not binary . Don’t rely on just one or two methods to protect your brand. Use a combination of blocked and acceptable domains,  keywords, and page-level analysis for a fully comprehensive solution.
    • Don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure your  blocked and keyword lists are up to date – and review them on a regular basis. As new scandals, international crises, and other brand concerns crop up, you’ll likely want to add new keywords to your list.
    • Programmatic performance enhancer. Leverage predictive targeting in demand-side platforms (DSPs) to ensure your ads appear on safe environments. With predictive targeting segments, you can target away from risky content; only paying or bidding on impressions that meet your brand safety requirements.
    • Blocking. To ensure more complete protection from risky content, add the ability to block impressions to your brand safety solution. This will ensure your ads are prevented¬≠ from serving near risky content. Remember, you’ll need to use third-party creative ad servers to block in real-time.

    Brand safety isn’t a new problem, we have been building effective solutions since 2009, but new threats can appear unexpectedly. Now that the industry has refocused its gaze on brand safety, what’s next for this topic? Now that brands, agencies and the wider general public are aware of the extent of brand risk within our industry, hopefully the industry can come together to address the challenge and provide effective solutions.

  • 24 January 2017

    Brands are coming under ever greater pressure to prove that their budgets are being spent efficiently and that their campaigns reach their target consumer.

  • 02 December 2016


    Speaking at last month’s JICWEBS (Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards) Townhall event, Alex Tait, UK & Ireland Media Director at Unilever, said the industry needs a collective change in behaviours and mind-set. Accepting that trade bodies can’t solve problems such as viewability and ad fraud on their own, Tait also called for leadership from the whole industry – primarily advertisers, agencies and media owners. 

    Unilever, together with Shell, Santander, Nationwide and Google, have been working with their industry partners on the JICWEBS Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Working Group to reduce the risk to exposure to Ad Fraud. 
    Tait feels that it’s becoming more difficult to get consensus as fragmentation generates more media players, claiming that it’s hard to drive change in an organisation, even harder in a whole ecosystem. He added that ‘burning platforms’ such as ad verification and ad blocking has made it even more important to restore trust and confidence in Digital.
    The good news is that members of ISBA’s Digital Action Group identified Ad Viewability, Ad Fraud and Online Brand Safety as being the biggest priorities for digital this year – issues being tackled by JICWEBS. Tait, who used to chair the Group’s meetings, believes that ad verification will remain a priority for advertisers next year. 
    Tait also called for advertisers to deepen their engagement with publishers. Acknowledging that the JICWEBS standard on Viewability for display ads is a good starting point, he feels that advertisers need to implement change on Viewability themselves, setting the bar higher and establishing their own standards.
    To conclude, Tait stressed that advertisers need to help fix the basics first, allowing Digital to trade on a like for like basis with other media.
    Members can get involved by:

    • Joining ISBA’s Digital Action Group. Contact David Ellison for details
    • Joining JICWEBS Cross-Industry Anti-Fraud Working Group. Contact David Ellison
    • Attending ISBA’s free, members only events in 2017, including one on Ad Fraud
    David Ellison
  • 14 November 2016

    In the second of a two-part series ahead of the IPA's Effectiveness Week, ISBA's media and advertising manager eyes a world of cloud-based broadcasting.

  • 14 November 2016

    In the first of a two-part series ahead of the IPA's Effectiveness Week, ISBA's media and advertising manager discusses the future of TV

  • 14 November 2016

    In  the wake of Facebook's video measurement blunder, ISBA's Mark Finney outlines the options for a transparent solution

  • 04 October 2016
    Is your company amongst the 20% of UK businesses that haven't yet looked at the new Data Protection rules? Is your organisation amongst the 25% that have suffered a data breach this year?
  • 06 September 2016

    There has been quite a bit of (largely inaccurate) press speculation over the last few weeks on the subject of a proposed joint advertising sales venture for UK news brands.  For those who missed it, this is still at the level of a feasibility study, examining the potential customer and commercial benefits of news brands sharing a commercial future. 

  • 05 September 2016

    Marketers have often been accused of jumping on the bandwagon of the latest marketing fad, especially when a bright new digital product appears (Pokemon Go anyone?)

  • 15 July 2016

    Having read the article in The Times "Junk Food Ban dropped after ministers bow to lobbyists" this morning I wanted to share my opinion on it. ISBA is the voice of British advertisers and our members are affected by this development.