As the digital landscape continues to evolve rapidly, brand safety is increasingly becoming an area of serious concern. In recent years, this issue has become especially acute as brands have, on occasion, found themselves associated with content that doesn’t align with their brand identity. 

In a survey by Digiday, 60% of marketing professionals agreed that brand safety was a serious problem for their marketing efforts. Some major brands have even pulled all advertising from sites like YouTube. Meanwhile, the introduction of new regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are changing the rules of the game for advertisers. While the situation surrounding brand safety has improved somewhat, and companies now have access to more tools that can help them protect their brands, it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on your brand safety. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Brand Safety?

Brand safety refers to protecting a brand’s reputation as they advertise online. It involves ensuring that the content their ads display alongside is appropriate and won’t harm the brand’s reputation.

There’s a lot of great content online, but there’s also a lot of content that most brands would not want to be associated with. This includes content about controversial or unsavory topics, content that may cause harm to others, and content that promotes illegal activities. Some types of content advertisers typically want to avoid include adult content, online piracy, hate speech, content about violence, and content about illegal drugs.

For example, most companies, especially those with a more lighthearted brand, would not want their ad next to a story about a violent war criminal. Brands also need to avoid fraudulent sites, fake news articles, sites that contain extremist views, and various other types of potentially harmful websites.

Different brands may have different standards for what inappropriate content is to them, and some brands may have stricter standards than others. For example, a company that sells clothing for kids would likely have more stringent standards than one that makes video games for adults. To ensure that your ads are paired with content that helps you meet your goals, you need to define what brand safety means for your company.

Why is Brand Safety So Important?

If your ad is displayed on an inappropriate site, your brand could inadvertently become associated with that site. The same logic applies to individual pieces of content. Someone could easily share a screenshot of an unfortunate ad placement on social media where it could spread incredibly quickly. Being associated with the wrong types of content could damage your brand’s reputation and take you further away from the goals of your advertising campaign.

If your ad displays on the wrong type of site, it could even help fund harmful or illegal activities such as fraud, fake news, hate speech, illegal drug trafficking, and terrorism. An investigation by the Times of London found that major brands had accidentally provided funding to the creators of content supporting terrorist and hate groups by placing ads on their websites and videos.

It’s especially important to pay attention to brand safety at times when there may be an influx of content you don’t want to be associated with. During the 2020 election cycle, for example, there is likely to be an increase in controversial stories, heated arguments, and, potentially, fake news. You need to make sure you have measures in place to ensure your ads display on the right types of content during this time to protect your brand.

How to Protect Your Brand

It’s crucial that brands and advertisers pay attention to brand safety and where their ads are showing up. How can you protect your brand from inappropriate ad placement? There are several precautions you can take.

Third-Party Measurement and Verification

One of the best things you can do to protect your brand is to partner with trusted third parties who can track your ad placement and ensure that it’s placed appropriately. Make sure that you only work with agencies and programmatic platforms that you trust to protect your brand and provide only appropriate ad placement.

At AUDIENCEX, we believe that one part of our job as marketers is to continue to help brands get smarter. Industry leaders like IAS are fostering an atmosphere of growing trust and transparency around brand safety by creating ever more refined and sophisticated tools to help keep brands safe. These tools, coupled with the right strategies, can help ensure that your brand is associated with appropriate content and that your message is disseminated in ways that are nurturing rather than detrimental.

Above all else, sustaining and growing this trust requires third-party measurement and verification. By building cross-industry partnerships among advertisers, agencies, the greater publisher community, and independent third-party ad measurement companies, we are working proactively to insulate our customers from risks and errors.

Take Advantage of Technology

Artificial Intelligence isn’t the future of predictive marketing — it’s the present. As the Internet of Things heralds a hyper-intuitive, effortless, and always-on lifestyle for consumers, AI needs to evolve better, more anticipatory experiences and brand interactions. Mastering this new landscape requires innovation and expertise.

Protect and Grow Your Brand with AUDIENCEX

Our sophisticated technology solutions, combined with the judgment and expertise of our people, make AUDIENCEX a trusted leader in ensuring brand safety. When your messaging and brand character is in the right hands, the rapidly changing digital landscape is nothing to fear — it’s something to get excited about.

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