As one of the biggest hot button issues for the past few years, “brand safety” continues to be on the minds of publishers, brands, platforms and ad tech companies alike. With an increase in scandals – from YouTube’s Logan Paul posting videos in Japan’s suicide forest, to Facebook Search promoting Holocaust denial groups, to the continued rise of fake news – brand safety is at a critical turning point. According to Integral Ad Science’s (IAS) Media Quality Report, between H1 and H2 2017 there was a 22.2% increase in overall brand risk in the U.S. across publisher direct and programmatic buys. But while it’s easy to discuss the importance of brand safety, it’s proven harder to do something about it.
According to Integral Ad Science’s (IAS) Media Quality Report, between H1 and H2 2017 there was a 22.2% increase in overall brand risk in the U.S. across publisher direct and programmatic buys.
Even though the issue is on everyone’s mind, no one seems eager to tackle the problem. Instead, we’re in a game of “hot potato,” where responsibility is continually passed down the chain. The solution needs to be a group effort, with demand-side platforms (DSPs) assuming a larger role.
When GDPR was first announced, everyone was afraid of an “ad-pocalypse.” But the reverse has taken effect; we are seeing a revaluation of ad tech, with MediaMath raising $200 million in investments and the acquisitions of both AppNexus and IAS. Ad tech companies are a critical part of the ecosystem and with this renewed valuation no longer need to be convert in how they are creating value in the chain.
However, even with the perceived increased value, creating a brand safe environment should not fall squarely on the advertisers’ shoulders. Currently, there is no universally agreed upon definition for what makes a piece of content or digital environment “brand safe.” What may be considered safe for one brand may not hold true for another. Whereas metrics, like viewability, have a generally more accepted definition, brand safety as a subjective matter has no clear, objective definition, opening the floor to disagreements and debates. Therefore, the crucial first step needs to be defining what brand safety actually means.
According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer, 70% of global participants expect brands to pressure social media platforms to do more about fake news and hate speech.
According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer, 70% of global participants expect brands to pressure social media platforms to do more about fake news and hate speech. However, while the type of content a brand appears next to is an important part of the equation, it is not the main issue brands need to consider when posting content.
When connecting with its target audiences’, creators must consider:
- Is my message getting across correctly?
- How will this make my brand look?
- Will this further my business goals?
To achieve this, on all sides of the equation, platforms, publishers, brands and ad tech companies need to work together towards a more standardized education. In implementing key performance metrics, publishers and platforms can help brands better understand their placements, while also increasing transparency.
Creating a truly “brand safe” environment will not be easy or happen overnight, but by taking responsibility, increasing collaboration and greater standardized education, it is definitely within reach. No single entity can solve brand safety. If all players in the chain don’t start working together to set an industry benchmark, but continue to pass responsibilities to their partners, the industry as-a-whole will need to prepare itself for a rough rest of 2018 as more scandals rock the landscape.