How do we ensure our ‘brands’ are in safe environment?


‘Brand safety’ is the burning topic of 2017 – from Cannes to boardrooms around the world.  Google have responded with a 4-step policy to fight ‘terrorism’ online – a major contributing factor for a brand being seen in inappropriate environment.  It includes –

  1. increasing the use of  video-analysis technology to identify and classify content better
  2. expanding the “Trusted Flagger Programme”  by adding more experts who work on hate-speech, self-harm and terrorism
  3. tougher stance on videos with unsavory content by denying monetisation, recommendation or viewer engagement which in turn will make such videos harder to find
  4. more efforts on ‘Redirect Method’ that redirects those being targeted by ‘terror’ agents to ‘anti-terrorist’ videos.  

Facebook has also reportedly put in place an ‘automated way to prevent and/or remove ads next to controversial content’.  

While these developments are encouraging, it should be complimented with measures from advertisers’ side as well.  Programmatic buying got quite a rap during these discussions.  The technology’s strengths – scale and efficiency – offered little protection for brands.  

Brand safety concerns reported to have caused a reduction in programmatic buying and an increase in native advertising.  But moving away from programmatic is not the answer and many experts have put forward ways to improve brand safety in programmatic buying.  As a media planner, below are some of the steps that can better ensure the clients’ brands are protected

  1. Deep analysis:  Move beyond the regular site traffic data and perform deep analysis to understand different pages, reader profile per page, content analysis, brands advertised.  It’s important to perform pre and post campaign analysis with the same rigor.  
  2. Prime inventory:  While cost efficiency is a key criterion, invest in prime inventory especially on sites that have higher propensity for varied content
  3. Publisher relationship:  Much like in the offline world, it’s important to have ‘real’ conversations with online publishers.  Their insights can add valuable background information required

The above steps are in the right direction even though it can’t 100% guarantee safety.  But with everyone being more aware of this issue and with concerted efforts from planners, publishers and platforms – there will be far less incidents of brands in uncomplimentary environment  

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Usman Khalid

About the Author Usman Khalid

Usman Khalid is the founder & CEO of Centric DXB. He excels in taking the point of view of both our clients and our internal teams - expressing those perspectives, concerns and requirements to the other side. Aspiring clients & partners can reach him on [email protected]