How can Brands Stay Safe Online?

by Digital Europe

Posted on 01-18-2018

Brand safe­ty has become a major issue for adver­tis­ers, fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery that some of the best-known brands were unwit­ting­ly pay­ing for adver­tis­ing on sites fea­tur­ing videos by ISIS, thus unwit­ting­ly fund­ing ter­ror­ism. At the same time, they need to be con­scious of brand per­cep­tion. What do con­sumers think of a brand whose ads are show­ing up next to videos that pro­mote hate?

Google recent­ly faced this issue with its YouTube net­work, and ads appear­ing on user-cre­at­ed videos, some of which con­tain offen­sive con­tent.. Ear­li­er this month, YouTube vlog­ger Logan Paul was forced to remove a video shot in Japan, which appar­ent­ly con­tained a sui­cide victim’s body. The video, which prompt­ed pub­lic out­rage, and was delet­ed with­in 24 hours, wasn’t the first time YouTube allowed offen­sive con­tent to be post­ed.. Only a few months ear­li­er, YouTube influ­encer PewDiePie post­ed an anti-Semit­ic joke on his glob­al plat­form, a mis­take that cost him his Dis­ney sponsorship.

Brands argue that YouTube should review and approve videos before they can appear on the site and fea­ture adver­tis­ing. Appar­ent­ly, Google’s lis­ten­ing. They announced a plan to vet the top-tier YouTube videos it bun­dles togeth­er for major adver­tis­ers. They plan to do this using both human mod­er­a­tors and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence soft­ware to flag videos con­sid­ered inap­pro­pri­ate for ads.

Will this be enough to pre­vent ads from being placed on offen­sive videos, or is there more to be done? Some would argue that these new restric­tions won’t stop such videos from mak­ing it through the screen­ing. After all, Logan Paul’s video was giv­en approval by YouTube’s own con­tent assess­ment team even after being flagged by con­cerned viewers.

These exam­ples high­light the issue of brand safe­ty. But what’s the solu­tion? Well, the first step is for brands to demand more trans­paren­cy from their agen­cies. This means review­ing a site-by-site view of the entire ad buy. Brands should also expect cred­it refunds for fraud­u­lent or unsafe ad place­ments, and have the capa­bil­i­ty to cre­ate “black­lists” of incom­pat­i­ble sites and con­tent areas..

Beyond avoid­ing offen­sive sites, brands also need to con­sid­er rel­e­vance in their pro­gram­mat­ic buys—from the seem­ing­ly obvi­ous con­sid­er­a­tion of “Is my Eng­lish lan­guage ad appear­ing on an Eng­lish lan­guage site?” to the more data-dri­ven, “Are view­ers engag­ing with my con­tent?” Pos­i­tive cus­tomer per­cep­tion also means relevance—are you con­nect­ing with peo­ple in a way that’s mean­ing­ful to their lives?

Because ad place­ment is so impor­tant, brands should expect their agen­cies to con­sid­er the broad­er con­text of ad place­ment, rather than focus­ing on tar­get­ed key­words. Depend­ing on the con­text in which they appear, key­words may not always align with the brand’s focus.

These are just some of the ques­tions brands should ask of their agen­cies to help guar­an­tee brand safe­ty. What oth­er ques­tions do you think they should they be asking?

Topics: Digital Transformation, brand safety, consumer perception, Programmatic Advertising, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA