Creating a brand safe environment for your ads

Creating a brand safe environment for your ads

Google was recently summoned by ministers as the government pulled ads over extremist content. It isn't unheard of to see ads up against 'inappropriate content', which can be anything from adult content to violent or racial propaganda. But how can we control the internet? The simple answer is, we can't - but what we can do is try mitigate the problem through our processes.

While programmatic makes up a bigger and bigger chunk of marketing spend, we're no longer operating in a one-to-one direct deal environment where impressions are guaranteed. This means that we strive for economic efficiency as well as effective and personalised targeting, which essentially involves working within the open landscape that is cyberspace. This poses a dichotomy, as the internet is both incredibly rich and informative but also contains damaging content which affects brand perceptions. 

So where do we start when it comes to protecting brands? At Greenlight, we've partnered up with Integral Ad Science so that all of our display tags have a pixel assigned. This pixel can block or monitor content that we've classified as negative to the brand in some way. We're then able to scan the page before the ad server fires the ad, read the content and look for words that classify as violent, adult, abusive and so on.

The problem here is that this method doesn't guarantee you'll get it completely right. For example, news sites will very often fire up as 'inappropriate' due to common terminology used in the media which appears to be inappropriate, but actually isn't. So even this policing system can be a little too sensitive sometimes. Mistakes can happen, but our job as digital marketers is to mitigate them.

Additional methods are to: implement and update blacklists, ensure certain keywords are blocked, keep on top of your ad verification reports, and work with suppliers to bring their quality of inventory up. Although this may seem tedious, it's a necessary and effective way of protecting brands and being aware of news stories that won't do them any favors. From there, you can block those which are gaining the most traction.

While this space has been a talking point for some years now, we really need to get under the skin of our partners, educate those clients that are unaware, and be open and honest to clients around the sorts of metrics we look at and work together to strive towards being relevant, cost-effective, and brand safe. 

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