How to approach the fine line between brand safety and results

The topic of brand safety is one that will not go away until it's addressed in a satisfactory manner. Just a few weeks ago, the YouTube conundrum made headlines again when adverts appeared against questionable content for the second time in recent months. Making use of third-party ad tech to protect your brand is just one way to filter out questionable placements, however, there's much more we can and need to do in order to win back the confidence of the advertiser.

At a recent event about ad fraud, fake news and creativity, there was a topic mentioned that keeps coming up more and more - short-term goals; in other words, how many eyeballs can my ad reach? However, looking at your campaigns this way disregards the actual impact it had on your audience - i.e. did the ad actually influence the end user?

Consumers no longer have faith in brands - so, the question is, how do we get that loyalty back? While this blog won't answer that question directly, it will address how we can make sure we buy media in through a transparent and brand safe means.

For every brand that's chasing short-term results through such thinking as "how many impressions or views can be generated for as cheap as possible?" - mixed in with an element of 'poor environment or context' - you'll have a consumer that'll start perceiving your brand in a negative context.

In simple terms, metrics are being looked at in isolation - we'll hardly ever be able to buy inventory in a premium brand safe environment without having to bid slightly higher for that placement. When brands stop caring about where their ads appear and only focus on the bottom line, you end up with consumers who'll place your brand in the 'never consider' box.

How can we target and reach the right user in the right place?

Mark Williams has a possible solution, involving a combination of machine learning (like the use of a third-party tools such as IAS's) and hand-curated keyword lists alongside whitelists and blacklists.

Artificial intelligence will never be able to pick up every single slang word, for example, so this is where humans need to add their input. Add one or two other layers of preventive measures, and you'll be able to ensure you have the best possible strategy in place to avoid any unsafe environments for your brand.

Having a clear strategy in place is highly important to avoid compromising brand placement by going after short-term goals. Yes, reach will be affected by excluding sites, channels and keywords - ultimately it's about reaching the right audience in the right environment which should be a priority, not how many impressions or clicks an ad was able to generate. 

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