Brand suitability: Exploring the next generation of brand safety

By ADmantX VP Nick Welch

Brand safety is big news. It is one of a trinity of major issues facing the advertising industry today, the others being fraud and viewability. But dig beyond the headlines and it is bigger news still – it’s time for advertisers to take a stand and look beneath the waterline.

[This article was first published on Marketing Tech.]

News publishers risk being unfairly penalised and the industry is at risk of losing quality, independent journalism if advertisers are frightened to support them through advertising.

This, even as the UK’s ad-tech market is helping fuel a boom in digital marketing. Double-digit growth is expected to push spend above £15bn in 2019, according to a recent Barclays Corporate Banking report.

It had, perhaps, fallen off the radar as fraud and viewability problems in programmatic took centre stage.

Then, last month, Google-owned YouTube was hit by yet another brand-safety crisis: advertisers including McDonald’s, Nestle and AT&T pulled or paused their ad spend from or on the platform after ads were found running next to videos that included inappropriate comments linking to pornography.

Of the three key issues that advertisers face brand safety and proximity to damaging content is the only challenge related to communication and reputation; fraud is arguably related to a lost budget, or a procurement issue and viewability to questionable efficiency. Consumers will judge brands if they appear to support dangerous or inappropriate content – but will clearly never know or care if an ad was fraudulently driven or was out of view. Perception of a brand by the consumer, positively or negatively, is influenced by the content it sits alongside.

It is why advertisers must consider the damaging impact that inadequate safeguards to mitigate against the reduced control programmatic threatens over ad placements will have on long term revenues and a brand’s values and positioning.

When it comes to brand safety, the stories that hit the headlines are really only the tip of the iceberg. Today, more than ever, advertisers who fail to consider brand suitability face long term damage. By focusing their efforts on avoiding the blatantly damaging ad placements portrayed in the media, brands are overlooking some important nuances. Brand suitability is about much more than avoiding running ads alongside obviously inappropriate content such as terrorism or hate speech.

It is time to take brand safety to the third level or ‘brand care’ level – one that gives far greater prominence to the meaning, context and potential implications of online content, specific to the actual brand’s needs.

Read the rest of this article on Marketing Tech.

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