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