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Jul'22·Andrés Auchterlonie·4 MIN

The secret to ensuring Brand Safety: Avoid these 3 common risks

Home The secret to ensuring Brand Safety: Avoid these 3 common risks

When a business provides an unparalleled product or service, it becomes an identity, elevating to the ‘brand’ status. A brand becomes the global image and defines how people perceive a business. This makes safeguarding brand image one of the cornerstones of marketing and advertising strategies. A survey conducted in the United States in November 2021 revealed that about 80% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that brands should be concerned about their ads appearing next to negative content on a website or app.

In March, ​​Applebee’s dancing cowboy ad interrupted CNN’s Ukraine war report creating a lot of uproar, and the brand became the subject of social media mockery. This led to the brand pulling down all its ads and CNN overhauling its ad placements against news. This is just one among the many brands that have borne the brunt of advertising alongside harmful or negative content. 

Brand Safety is one of the key focus areas among advertisers today. It is the measures taken by brands to protect their reputation and ensure the brand does not appear in any negative environment. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) also put together GARM: Brand Safety Floor + Suitability Framework to help brands safeguard their reputation by staying clear of any harmful or inappropriate content. 

Let’s explore three factors that pose the biggest risk to brand safety in today’s digital-first world:

  • Social media frenzy 

Over the years, social media has emerged as a ‘source of truth’ globally. An active and well-thought-out social media presence is essential in building a brand identity. People like to stay in the know-how and closely follow their favorite brands on social media. This, as always, makes social media both a boon and a bain. 

While it is a great environment for brands to advertise and connect with customers and brand loyalists, it can also be disastrous for brands if ads are displayed alongside objectionable content. It is a powerful tool that is easily accessible. There have been instances where netizens have put brands on the spot for their poor choice in content, imagery, and placement besides questionable or distasteful content and pages. 

Everything from ad strategy and placements to tracking mentions, comments, and appearance is essential to secure brand safety. Marketers must also be vigilant of imposters and identity thieves who can cause significant damage to brand reputation through fraudulent activities or posting unsavory content.

  • Falling prey to ad fraud 

An industry that’s valued at over US$ 640 billion, like many others, has its share of fraudulent activities. There are dubious websites set up, and with the help of bots, they generate false clicks and attract ads. Advertisers lose billions to ad fraud every month because of the lack of in-depth research and giving into low-cost inventories. Marketers need to understand if their ads are truly reaching their desired target audience, gain control over ad impressions, and measure the quality of impressions and clicks. 

But, how does this affect brand safety? 

One of the largest contributors to ad fraud is adult websites. A reputed brand’s ad rendering alongside adult content can take a massive toll on brand image. While keyword block lists are an effective and much-needed practice, this alone cannot ensure brand safety. Also, keyword blocking could backfire too. A segment often caught on the negative end is news publications. In an attempt to avoid fake or sensitive news, brands lose out on the opportunity to display their ads on premium, popular, high-traffic generating news channels. 

  • Sidelining ad placement strategy 

A mistake often made by marketers and advertisers – not giving ad placement its much-needed importance. Youtube has been receiving severe backlash as reports suggested that it rendered the ads of renowned brands alongside misinformation and conspiratorial content. 

If it hasn’t been stressed enough, ad placements matter and significantly impact a brand’s image. Poorly placed ads alongside unsafe or negative content can have nasty consequences on brands, and advertisers increasingly realize the need to control where their brand is positioned. 

With ads and content always going hand in hand, the need to focus on ad placement to ensure brand safety will continue to be imperative. Advertisers must always prioritize ad placement and ensure the content it is placed beside aligns with the brand’s values and messaging. 

Creating an ad strategy that works for both sales & safety 

The need to prioritize brand safety has its drawbacks – a significant decrease in audience reach, the inability to target hyper-specific audience pools, or do justice to allocated ad budgets. But, this is only for those marketers and advertisers that are still stuck on traditional ad strategies and methodologies. 

The 2020s are all about staying in context – The era of contextual advertising. This automated advertising process leverages new-age technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), to display ads that rate high on brand safety. Ensuring brand safety also requires ad content to align with the existing content on the page. This makes contextual ads a necessity for both publishers and advertisers to assure brand safety.   

How does contextual advertising ensure the highest levels of brand safety? By analyzing written and visual content, and the context of web pages, contextual advertising ensures ads are rendered on relevant websites that target the desired audiences in an environment that’s safe and fits into the brand’s identity and values, without using any cookies. Contextual AI works on placings ads in what’s considered to be the most brand-safe environment for advertisers – editorial pages. Beyond the regular keyword analysis, contextual AI enables advertisers and publishers to maximize opportunities through comprehensive analytics. With capabilities like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Sentiment analysis, contextual advertising unlocks new possibilities for brands. 

What makes contextual advertising the future of digital advertising?

  • Focus on accuracy and relevance
  • Enables personalization to reach desired audience segments and deliver ads at a highly granular level
  • Intelligent targeting strategies that go beyond the standard IAB taxonomy, eliminating impression wastage
  • A cost-effective solution that can be tailored to fit business niches and overcome specific advertising challenges 
  • And most importantly, a solution that does not leverage any cookies 

A privacy-first solution that does not rely on any third-party data, contextual advertising’s ability to analyze a web page with a human-like understanding of content and context makes it an ideal brand-safe advertising strategy.

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