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Avoiding the Unsavory & Measuring Safety

Posted Feb 13, 2018

From affiliation with questionable content to questionable reporting, the topic of brand safety reached a fever pitch in 2017 and is a top concern today. So what are brand advertisers doing about it?  How are they avoiding unsavory placements and measuring safety?

A new report from eMarketer entitled The Brand Safety Dilemma: Looking Beyond Scale and Efficiency to Quality, Context and Common Sense offers some insight.

Ranking Top Concerns Among Brands
Before delving into what’s being done to confront brand safety concerns, it’s important to review the areas that are the most concerning. According to a survey of ad decision makers, the leading digital media buying issues are:

  • ROI (59%)
  • Viewability (54%)
  • Safety of the placement (51%)
  • Ad fraud (50%)
  • Programmatic transparency (42%)
  • Ad blocking (35%)

In short, it boils down to a desire to know where ads are shown, whether the ad was truly seen, and what results it drives.

How Marketers are Adapting
To mitigate the risk of a brand safety concern, CMOs and marketing VPs have reported adjusting their behaviors and strategies in a myriad of ways, including:

  • Increasing spend on verifiably brand safe channels (57.7%)
  • Demanding transparency from agencies and suppliers (44.2%)
  • Increasing third-party measurement (39.4%)
  • Increasing spend with premium content publishers (38.5%)
  • Reducing or ceasing use of channels that can’t verify safety (29.8%)

Despite these efforts, eMarketer describes advertisers as “sleepwalking into dangerous territory,” as many still continue to spend on channels plagued with inherent brand safety risks. Simply, as campaigns became increasingly focused on retargeting specific users, so they became less cautious about where exactly the users were when they were being reached.

While the appeal of these campaigns is understandable, the report reminds that “many advertisers don’t want to be associated with all the unsavory corners of the internet their audience might be”.

As such, it’s not surprising that over a third of advertisers are increasing spend with premium content publishers whose inventory are far from those unsavory corners.

After all, the Association of National Advertisers recently found that 78% of advertisers are concerned about brand safety issues when buying programmatically, and 37% are very concerned.

As such, programmatic ad buying is shifting toward direct and private marketplaces. Indeed, eMarketer projects that private marketplace spending — which was only a third of open exchange spending in 2015 but has since closed the gap — will grow 25% this year.

Again, it all boils down to the need to not only know who sees an ad, but how and to what effect. These are questions that can only be answered when partners provide curated inventory with ample transparency and trusted third-party reporting.

Join the Conversation
How do you ensure your ads appear in brand safe settings? What are you doing differently in 2018 to mitigate risk, and how are your partners helping? Tweet your thoughts to @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.

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