Protect your brand online

22 May 2017
Insights and tips from Nick Morley, Managing Director EMEA, Integral Ad Science on how to protect your campaigns from unsafe environments in the planning stage, as well as during the campaign.

With greater focus on extremist material, fake news and brand advertising appearing next to unsavoury content, brand safety has again been thrust fully into the limelight. The immediacy of social media makes it far easier for people to spot and share “campaigns that have gone wrong,” resulting in brand safety now being brought to the attention of the masses. What was once a problem discussed solely amongst the digital advertising industry, now has become national front-page news.

When people explain brand safety, they typically use an example of how things go wrong in a display campaign. One classic given example is that an ad for a family-focused brand appears on a website with adult content. Another commonly quoted example is that an ad for an airline runs beside a news article about a plane crash.

Careless insertion of an ad could start a public relations firestorm and ultimately damage a brand’s image and reputation. These examples are vivid and easy to understand, but they can make brand safety sound simpler than it is. First of all, a major brand safety misconception must be addressed by brands.

The top misconception around brand safety that we hear is that brand safety is just about setting up a list of blocked domains and this ensures your brand’s online safety.

This is one approach to enforcing brand safety -  simply draw up a list of websites and mobile apps that you know will have content that your brand will deem inappropriate and then avoid buying impressions from any properties on that list. While this approach has some merit, it also has several serious drawbacks:

Lack of precision: If you block an entire domain because some of its pages are unsavoury, you lose out on the scale you could achieve with other, high-quality pages in that same domain.
Continual manual update: A blocked list has to be constantly expanded as new properties are being created every day.
Domain spoofing: Bad actors know their website is on your list and will fraudulently sell it under a name you trust instead.

With fake news and extremist sites dominating the headlines, protecting your brand is more important than ever. Verification providers are able to help protect your campaigns from unsafe environments in the planning stage, as well as during the campaign.

Here are 5 tips to protect your brand online:

  • Page-level. Domain-level protection is not enough. Different web pages on a website have different content topics, with different levels of risk. Make sure you’re getting page-level protection for true coverage.
  • It’s not binary . Don’t rely on just one or two methods to protect your brand. Use a combination of blocked and acceptable domains,  keywords, and page-level analysis for a fully comprehensive solution.
  • Don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure your  blocked and keyword lists are up to date – and review them on a regular basis. As new scandals, international crises, and other brand concerns crop up, you’ll likely want to add new keywords to your list.
  • Programmatic performance enhancer. Leverage predictive targeting in demand-side platforms (DSPs) to ensure your ads appear on safe environments. With predictive targeting segments, you can target away from risky content; only paying or bidding on impressions that meet your brand safety requirements.
  • Blocking. To ensure more complete protection from risky content, add the ability to block impressions to your brand safety solution. This will ensure your ads are prevented¬≠ from serving near risky content. Remember, you’ll need to use third-party creative ad servers to block in real-time.

Brand safety isn’t a new problem, we have been building effective solutions since 2009, but new threats can appear unexpectedly. Now that the industry has refocused its gaze on brand safety, what’s next for this topic? Now that brands, agencies and the wider general public are aware of the extent of brand risk within our industry, hopefully the industry can come together to address the challenge and provide effective solutions.

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