Brand safety: protect yourself online

2:30 PM, 26 July 2017

Are you putting your brand in harm’s way?

Image courtesy of Blue Coat Photos

Is your brand associated with indecency?

The immediacy of social media makes it far easier for people to spot and share “campaigns that have gone wrong,” resulting in brand safety now being brought to the attention of the masses.
What was once a problem discussed solely amongst the online advertising industry, now has become national front-page news.

When brands are attacked ...

When people explain brand safety, they typically use an example of how things go wrong in a display campaign.
For example: an ad for a family-focused brand appears on a website with adult content/links to pornography. Another commonly quoted example is when an airline ad runs beside a news article about a plane crash ....
Careless ad placement can start a public relations firestorm which ultimately damages a brand’s image and reputation. These examples are vivid and easy to understand, but they can make managing brand safety sound more simpler than it is.

Are you falling for a common brand safety misconception?

The top misconception we hear is that brand safety is just about setting up a list of blocked domains. Drawing up a list of websites and mobile apps that you know will feature content inappropriate for your brand -- to avoid buying impressions from any properties on that list -- is one approach to brand safety.

Yet, it also has several serious drawbacks:

Lack of precision

If you block an entire domain because some of its pages are unsavoury, you lose out on the scale you could achieve with other, high-quality pages in that same domain.

Increased manual labour

A blocked list must be updated continually as new properties are being created every day.

Domain spoofing

Bad actors know their website is on your list and will fraudulently sell it under a name you trust instead.

With fake news stories and extremist sites dominating the headlines, protecting your brand is more important than ever.

While your target audiences are scrambling to separate truth from fiction, verification providers are able to help protect your campaigns from unsafe environments in the planning stage as well as during the campaign.

Here are five tips for protecting your brand online:

1. Use page-level protection

Domain-level protection is not enough. Different web pages on a website have different content topics, with different levels of risk. Make sure you’re getting page-level protection for true coverage.

2. Combine your strategies

Don’t rely on just one or two methods to protect your brand. Use a combination of blocked and acceptable domains, keywords, and page-level analysis for a comprehensive solution.

3. Stay involved

Make sure your blocked domains and keywords lists are up to date – and review them on a regular basis. As new scandals, international crises, and other brand concerns crop up, you’ll want to add these to your lists.

4. Use technology to your advantage

Leverage predictive targeting in demand-side platforms (DSPs) to ensure your ads appear on safe environments. With predictive targeting segments, you can target away from risky content; only paying or bidding on impressions that meet your brand safety requirements.

5. Try real-time blocking

To ensure more complete protection from risky content, add the ability to block impressions to your brand safety solution. This will ensure your ads are prevented­ from serving near risky content. Remember, you’ll need to use third-party creative ad servers to block in real-time.

What's next?

While brand safety isn’t a new problem -- we have been crafting effective solutions for some time -- new threats can appear unexpectedly.
Now that brands, agencies and the wider general public are aware of the extent of brand risk within our industry, what’s next?
Hopefully we can come together to address the challenge and provide more effective solutions.

What measures have you taken to protect your brand? All feedback, queries, and opinions are welcomed to

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