Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why brand safety is more important than ever at a time of heightened uncertainty and tension

Fortunately, there are welcome signs of growing sophistication and proactivity when it comes to brandsuitable advertising, writes Rob Blake, Country Manager UK, Channel Factory

Marketers have been seeking out simplicity and safety in media investment in an increasingly-complex digital landscape for some time. Performance is even more important in today’s world, as brands look to maximize their efficiency and deliver outcomes on their investments. 

So we see it as positive news for marketers that IAS and Channel Factory recently launched their joint product called Channel Science; one that offers a single, seamless solution for brand safe, suitable, and performance-driven YouTube campaigns via one product. 

IAS’s brand safety protection combined with Channel Factory’s performance-led approach and expert curation of YouTube content provides marketers with a one-stop solution for advertising at the channel and video level. 

Both IAS and Channel Factory are members of the YouTube Measurement Programme, which expanded earlier this year and standardises how third parties use data from its API. Participants must undergo an audit and certification process, and are classified within three categories: brand suitability and contextual targeting; brand safety reporting, and content insights.

IAS and Channel Factory’s combined offering enables advertisers to create a Youtube campaign based on contextual alignment, performance and brand safety, according to a brand’s individual risk assessment. Low-performing channels are removed weekly while new ones are added, all verified as brand safe.

After all, with hundreds of hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, static lists can go stale very quickly indeed. It therefore makes sense for advertisers to constantly evaluate the efficacy of their programmes; but this is no small task and one which requires some data science to ensure maximum efficiency.

And, as we emerge from this global pandemic, advertisers are searching for ways to streamline media buying and improve efficiencies and performance. This is the case more than ever before, with budgets under pressure and investment strategies under stark review. 

Of course, some platforms have been under attack for what has been perceived as a lack of stewardship when it comes to protecting brands from being exposed to harmful, offensive content. Many advertisers paused their spending, for instance, in a rapid backlash during July. 

But according to a new audit from IPG Mediabrands, YouTube currently has the best overall brand-safety measures in place among all the major social media networks. IPG’s first Media Responsibility Audit, announced this month, will be updated quarterly. It assesses the major social platforms, looking at factors such as policy enforcement, consistency, and the eradication of hate speech and misinformation. 

This time of heightened anxiety has actually made brand safety and brand suitability more acute; with audiences more sensitive to brand missteps and more likely to react badly to them. IPG’s finding that YouTube tops the overall rankings and performs best against several principles is a testament to the changes the platform has made in response to advertiser concerns.

Yet it remains crucial that all players take part in safeguarding media channels, making sure they do not result in harm. This process always starts with deciding what content is appropriate for the brand and its intended message. Guidelines must be reviewed regularly. It is not a one-off job. 

The end result of such diligence is improved performance of social media advertising. And this latest partnership shows how collaboration and innovation is the best way of achieving this goal. Brand safety is high on the agenda for advertisers, who can now invest in high quality and high performance, brand suitable, media on YouTube via a single solution.