Two cents blog

How to be brand safe in an era of automation

by Dave Mooney on 6 April 2017

Brand safety for digital advertising has seen its fair share of headlines recently. There have been a number of prominent advertisers pulling their activity due to their ads appearing next to or in front of controversial or extremist content online.

One of the issues presenting itself is that the efficiencies which make programmatic ad buying such a fantastic tool for delivering relevant, targeted scale within a campaign are also what is placing advertiser content in front of non-brand safe content. This is an issue which has always had the potential to boil to the surface as more-and-more publishers monetise by plugging into ad exchanges. Combine this with the fact that consumers are browsing and engaging with such a wide variety of content and all of a sudden reigning in the programmatic engine looks like a daunting task!

Jason Pellegrino, the Managing Director of Google Australia, recently spoke to on the issue;

“In the pre-internet era, you were really restrained to a set number of printed publications, magazines and TV stations. That constraint has disappeared and the internet allows engagement with all forms of content.”

He makes an interesting point. The world of digital changes so fast and for many advertisers, publishers, ad exchanges, demand-side platforms etc. etc. etc, this is unchartered territory. The good news is that as the digital marketplace is constantly evolving so are the measures advertisers and media companies are able to put in place to deliver well against brand-safe inventory. So how do you maintain brand safety in an era of automation?

Every platform out there offers their own levels of brand safety which advertisers & media companies can opt into/out of as they’re planning their buy. On top of this, there are other brand safe measures such as 3rd party verification, website white-lists (or black-lists) premium tier inventory, content exclusions, keyword exclusions, category & demographic exclusions. All of these measures work together to help ensure ads will appear in front of the eyeballs they’re intended for (and not on content which could compromise the brand in any way).

The important point to stress in understanding brand safety is that the most likely reason a brand’s advertising has appeared in the context of non-brand safe content is that the above measures have not been completely met from the side of the media agency/advertiser. Here at BCM, we ensure that these measures are in place as a standard in order to deliver the best results for our clients in a context which is brand safe.

Brand safety is a serious consideration for any campaign and it’s important to ensure that any time we’re planning a digital campaign, implementing targeting and executing/optimising we’re continually minimising any risks by thinking about the highest level of brand safety. At the end of the day, digital advertising is operating in a market where there is so much competition for eyeballs and everything is moving so quickly in order to keep up with user needs and advertiser demands. Recent events in this landscape will most likely lead to a better system for brands as platforms offer better protection for brands when advertising.

Dave Mooney is a Digital Strategist at BCM

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