The Evolution of Brand Safety in Digital Advertising

In just 25 years, brand safety has advanced from the pre-digital age to the leading edge of advertising technology.


Brand Safety is setting those definitions by advertisers to make sure their ads are not placed next to inappropriate content i.e hate speech, misinformation and plagiarised and pirated content.


Investing in Brand Safety not only allows your brand to showcase your ads to humans, but also protects your brand equity. In just 25 years, brand safety has advanced from the pre-digital age to the leading edge of advertising technology. Here's a look back:


The Pre-Digital Marketing Era:


Brand safety before the rise of the digital age was primarily concerned with issues like poor product placement, trademark infringement and bad press. It was also a lot harder to target, scale and measure campaigns, and a lot of creative energy and effort was wasted on activities that computers today can carry for us.

Brand safety in 2004 - 2014:


Facebook made its debut, followed in close succession by YouTube (2005) and Twitter (2006). Three years later, Facebook became the first of the platforms to launch advertising. Facebook Ads represented a completely new way of advertising online but no one predicted the brand safety implications of venturing into these uncharted waters.


In 2011 , the programmatic revolution began, accounting for around 25% of all digital display ad spendings. While it's difficult to underestimate the significance of programmatic in opening the digital landscape to marketers, within a relatively short period of time, it also became the source of the brand safety challenges and concerns of the modern era.


Three years later (in 2014), programmatic advertising claimed for almost 50% of all the digital display ad spending, yet many marketers remain unaware-or uncertain of how to avoid-the looming brand safety crisis.

Brand safety in 2015 - 2019:


In the first significant brand safety incident, YouTube was found to be publishing ISIS recruitment videos alongside advertisements for Toyota, Procter & Gamble, and other well-known brands. The proximity of hate speech, extremist content, and child exploitation caused major brands like Nike, Disney, Nestle, and Amazon to stop advertising on the site once more in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


YouTube's failed attempts to eliminate these kinds of content depicts the limitations of traditional brand safety tools we had in dealing with user-generated content. Brands advertising on social platforms run the risk of flying too near to the sun if they don't have access to real-time, page-level monitoring of what users are actually viewing. As they pursue the reach and value these platforms provide, they eventually run the risk of getting burned.


Brand safety 2020 - Present:


COVID has generated new hurdles for brand safety. Digital use increased tremendously and as a result more and more users and targeted audiences are now consuming information via digital platforms.


Keyword blacklisting and URL blocking, which are the most widely used brand safety methods, do not assist in every condition. It is vital today to go beyond brand safety. A good brand suitability strategy is needed to ensure that your brand is aligned with positive settings while avoiding damaging content.

Marketers are finally starting to get a handle on the most pressing brand safety issues of modern times. The focus for forward-thinkers has shifted to finding a more inclusive approach to brand safety - one that not only embraces content left at the margins of traditional brand safety measures, but ultimately moves brands closer to their most relatable content.


Why is Brand Safety important?

Brand safety is in the eye of the beholder—it all depends on what is or is not appropriate for the brand."

The last thing you want for your brand to be associated with something negative or inappropriate, as almost half (48%) of consumers stated they will boycott or reconsider buying from a brand if it appears next to inappropriate content or content that concerns them. While it's impossible to avoid it from happening 100% of the time, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Brand safety is one of the biggest issues of advertisers that keep them awake at night. If kept uncontrolled, brand can indirectly help bad players monetise which leads to:

1. Poor Ad Placement

2. Fuel Fake News and Misinformation

3. Provide support to conspiracy theories

4. Promote Extremism.

5. Promote Inappropriate content i.e pornography, illegal activities, drugs, military conflicts etc.

Com Olho’s Solution for Brand Safety

The Internet is home to several different types of content — educational, inspiring, entertaining to name a few. However, not every web page should deliver your message. Brand safety is one of the biggest issues of advertisers that keep them awake at night, hence it’s more important than ever to ensure your advertising appears alongside content that is right for your brand.

The last thing you wish is for your brand to be associated with something negative or offensive. While it's impossible to avoid it from happening 100% of the time, you can take the actions to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Com Olho’s Brand Safety APIs prevent your advertising from being displayed on irrelevant and hazardous websites and mobile applications in real-time. It not only allows your company to show adverts to humans, but it also protects your brand equity. Because digital ads are likely to be seen by more humans, every proactive effort taken to limit the impact of ads being shown in irrelevant and non-human ad slots will multiply your ROAS. The patented technology helps in the assessment of campaigns’ several points, which include ownership, content kind, reviews, engagement, and other factors. After retrieving the data, the platform automatically divides it into categories, ranging from the worst to the best publishers.

Conclusion


Brand safety requires more than just a ‘blanket’ approach across all digital campaigns. There are content that are unique to different channels and those need to be taken into consideration when devising your brand safety thresholds to protect your brand from appearing against unsavoury content.


While brand safety is an hygiene activity and increasingly becoming table stakes, marketers are focused on relevancy and suitability of the content that brands are appearing alongside as a proxy for attention.

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