If you’re in the ad-tech industry, then you’re no stranger to the issues surrounding brand safety. Nevertheless, there still seems to be some confusion about what brand safety is and how to achieve it. It's no secret that the fastest and most obvious way to kill your brand is to run ad placements across objectionable content or in front of someone who is not supposed to see it. However, we believe there is more to brand safety than that and we’ll break it down for you here.
Depending on who you are in the industry, the words “brand safety” may evoke different responses in you. To most, those words strike fear, as past ad placement SNAFUs have led to likely traumatizing experiences both for the viewer and for brands that saw their reputation tarnished in a matter of seconds. Even in the current ad-tech climate, advertisers are pulling spending altogether until they’re more confident that their ads will run safely.
It may knock the metadata out of you to think that a few years ago, no one measured how safe or unsafe ad placements were.Many relied on anecdotal evidence to surface at random, usually through the press, as their form of regulation. It was a reactionary model, flawed from the beginning. Anyone who has managed a business or has been responsible for the profits & losses of a division will tell you in order to improve performance, you need to measure it. The same is true for brand safety.
But how does a brand ensure that it’s getting all of the information it needs to make smart choices? A lot of our clients who run ads on YouTube have come to us after partnering directly with Google for years, confused as to why their campaigns aren’t performing optimally. They don’t realize that Google limits brands to pre-set, top-level targeting that tends to be very basic (behavioral, topic, keyword) and has limited exclusion capabilities. And in those cases when brands wanting more control go directly through Google’s self-serve option, most discover that they don’t have the know-how to run it. It’s like a Sunday driver in the seat of a Google-built race car. In these instances, you need a partner who can handle the curves at maximum speed, fully utilizing all of the tools that Google has to offer.
Brands only get one chance to make a good first impression. It’s better to isolate appropriate placements from the get-go, instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you reach the right audience. Our COO was shocked when his 4-year-old daughter pointed out an ad, showing a man blow-drying himself under his towel, running in front of her favorite cartoon on YouTube.
Another widespread phenomenon we see in the digital advertising industry is when vendors create tightly controlled exclusion lists that are too narrow, often missing out on potential audiences. Let's not forget about the power of contextual relevance. It’s not enough to create an exclusion list and stick to it. Brands have to dive deeper, ensuring that the context of the content delivered is appropriate for the intended audience. This includes looking at more than just a video title and description, but also digging into video content itself, the channel history, and past user behaviors to create a more robust picture of where exactly brands need to be.
Lastly, brands and advertisers need to ensure that their vendors have a safety strategy in place, and that can look differently for everyone. For NOM, that means having a proprietary global exclusion list to protect brands from objectionable content and tailoring inclusion and exclusion lists to each client to ensure that brands remain contextually relevant. Not only do we thoughtfully run ads, but we follow through on their placement, tracking precisely where they’ve run and using their performance to inform future campaign successes and safety.
Find out how NOM has helped other brands reach their ad performance goals by downloading our case study here. For targeted, personalized solutions, email us directly email@example.com.