Right now, brand safety is one of the biggest hot buttons in the advertising world. With recent controversy surrounding ad fraud and risks related to appearing alongside inappropriate or offensive content, transparency is more important to brands than ever before. Unilever CMO Keith Weed was recently quoted as saying, “A brand without trust is simply a product.” With that in mind, here are some important considerations that should be on the radar of marketing professionals as they begin planning for 2019:
The Human Element
As important as technology solutions can be to have in place, it all starts with humans laying the strategic foundation for protecting a brand. To ensure that you don’t run into issues that may put your brand in jeopardy, you need to first identify where the biggest hazards exist and how to safeguard against them. At RP3, our Connections department has media buying and PR teams working together to ensure that both sides are aware of what the other is doing. This helps us to identify potential landmines with campaign messaging, controversial content (or websites), competitor sensitivities and a better understanding of the industry landscape that work to protect our clients from problems.
The Role of Ad Tech
Ad tech has made a lot of strides when it comes to audience targeting and inventory (site-level) placements over the years. However, these opportunities have also created challenges when it comes to navigating brands through issues like user generated content (i.e., YouTube), domain spoofing and ad blockers. Selecting reputable partners in the programmatic ad space is an important first step to knowing where your ads are showing up and to what degree they are viewable. This doesn’t always mean that your ads can’t appear adjacent to controversial content, but it requires advance thought around what will and won’t work based on your brand’s core beliefs and interests.
The use of search prospecting and other forms of contextual targeting can be a great way to insert your brand into relevant editorial and/or pictorial content. However, you need to be careful when it comes to the sentiment and tone of the content, as well. Automotive brands want to be found on car review websites where people are researching a car purchase. This works well not only for content directly related to their make and model(s), but also for the conquest of competitors by inserting their brand into a potential buyer’s consideration set. However, they wouldn’t want to align with any content that might give less-than-favorable reviews or discuss recalls, etc. To combat this sort of issue, you must always be sure to include negative keywords that help your programmatic partners identify what content you don’t want to be identified with.
Establishing a system of checks and balances is a critical step in holding your media partners accountable. Using a third-party ad server like Sizmek, combined with a brand safety platform (Double Verify, Integral Ad Science, etc.) can dramatically help to keep your partners honest through authentication of the inventory that you are running on and confirmation that the ads were actually viewable. This improved transparency provides much-needed peace of mind that your ads are getting in front of the right people and are adjacent to brand safe content on websites run by reputable digital publishers.
On the Horizon
Although blockchain technology is a big buzzword in the financial community, it does have applications in the media world that include the ability to monitor impression verification, payment tracking, and fraud prevention. There was a recent article in Ad Age about how Toyota added blockchain tracking tags to their buying platform to determine where their advertising inventory was actually coming from. The use of this new technology helped Toyota to pinpoint underperforming areas and optimize accordingly. Post-campaign results boasted a 21% uptick in site visitors when compared to similar ad buys made without a blockchain solution in place. These kinds of initial reports are encouraging and may someday help with better attribution models.
These are just a few of the many topics you will need to wrap your head around in order to build a strategy to keep your brand safe. Do you know where your digital ads are currently running and what websites and content your brand might be associated with? If not, reach out to RP3 and we can help to shine a light on this complex digital maze.