What is brand security

What does a successful brand safety strategy look like?

Brand security has long been a top concern for advertisers. Although industry representatives have been demanding more transparency and responsibility from technology providers and publishers for years, problems continue to arise. That is why we need new standards for brand safety in order to reliably protect our brands from unsafe, illegal or inappropriate content.

According to forecasts by Emarketer, 7.93 billion euros will flow into digital advertising in Germany alone this year, more than a third of all advertising expenditure. In order for the digitally used advertising budgets to have the greatest possible effect, it pays to set up a brand safety strategy. As studies by the CMO Council show, 48 percent of consumers would decide against a brand in the future if their advertisements were to appear next to offensive content or fake news.

It is therefore worth taking a step back before formulating the brand safety strategy and talking as a team about what brand safety and brand suitability actually are and how they can help advertisers, publishers and platform providers to find a sustainable solution together Find.

Blacklisting has been the solution of choice for a long time and is still useful, but keyword selection in particular can be difficult. After all, you don't want to blacklist a term that appears on secure websites that are perfectly suitable for advertising. In addition, it is not easy to customize the lists for each brand.

Most advertisers would probably find it difficult to draw a clear line between “appropriate” and “inappropriate” environments for their own advertising. Of course, there is content that nobody wants to see their advertising next to, such as articles that glorify violence and hate speech. But the situation is often by no means clear. Therefore, those responsible for each brand must make this decision themselves, taking into account their brand values ​​and their target group.

Blacklisting is often not effective. For example, by blacklisting the word “knife” you are almost certainly avoiding your advertisements appearing alongside news of knife violence. At the same time, you are blocking your way to many recipe pages. The same goes for blocking URL strings. Some URLs are so bland that any attempt to exclude or include them increases the risk to brand safety or leads to many missed opportunities.

Ultimately, it's all about finding the right balance between protecting your brand and getting the widest possible reach for your advertising. In many cases, this balance cannot be achieved with blacklists.

Why blacklisting is not enough

Blacklisting has been the solution of choice for a long time and is still useful, but keyword selection in particular can be difficult. After all, you don't want to blacklist a term that appears on secure websites that are perfectly suitable for advertising. In addition, it is not easy to customize the lists for each brand.

Most advertisers would probably find it difficult to draw a clear line between “appropriate” and “inappropriate” environments for their own advertising. Of course, there is content that nobody wants to see their advertising next to, such as articles that glorify violence and hate speech. But the situation is often by no means clear. Therefore, those responsible for each brand must make this decision themselves, taking into account their brand values ​​and their target group.

Blacklisting is often not effective. For example, by blacklisting the word “knife” you are almost certainly avoiding your advertisements appearing alongside news of knife violence. At the same time, you are blocking your way to many recipe pages. The same goes for blocking URL strings. Some URLs are so bland that any attempt to exclude or include them increases the risk to brand safety or leads to many missed opportunities.

Ultimately, it's all about finding the right balance between protecting your brand and getting the widest possible reach for your advertising. In many cases, this balance cannot be achieved with blacklists.

Tailored brand safety

As already mentioned, there is content that no brand wants to be associated with. That is why there is a standard list of sensitive categories that are used in the adtech industry to track and exclude from the advertising strategy websites that deal with topics such as crime or military conflicts or whose content is obscene or not suitable for minors.

These standard entries provide a ready-to-use starting point for a brand safety strategy. However, they are not nuanced enough to avoid brand-specific risks or to make targeted use of opportunities that are particularly relevant for your own brand.

Therefore, marketers shouldn't rely on these standard entries, but rather create lists that are tailored to their own brand. Otherwise, you are likely excluding too many websites that are used by your target audiences and that would be good for your campaigns.

Real contextual understanding

Only when you understand the real context of websites in real time can you take advantage of all the opportunities that arise without jeopardizing brand security. Technologies for context recognition are developing rapidly, so that every euro invested in this area pays off immediately in the form of significantly better results (and thus more conversions and new customers).

At the same time, of course, websites and their content are constantly updated. If you want to understand the context of each page in detail, you cannot avoid going deeper and analyzing the context of each page. Therefore, using crawlers to read each page and understand the conversations taking place there can help marketers make informed decisions about where their ads will be placed.

The most modern technologies use machine learning algorithms to determine whether the content of a website is suitable for the placement of advertising. In doing so, they not only take into account the terms used on the website, but also the context. These algorithms can also be used to create models that fit the image of a particular brand, and not just based on generic categories.

Why is that important?

Customized Brand Safety (or “Brand Suitability”) is a proven strategy for increasing the effectiveness of advertising because it allows the individual values ​​of each brand to be taken into account. For example, BMW advertising can be effective on websites on which Fjällräven does not want to advertise its products under any circumstances.

In this respect, there are just as big differences between different brands as there are between different people. In addition, some advertisers do not want to take any risks, while others want to take advantage of the opportunities that arise more aggressively. With modern technology, models can be designed that also take this into account.

Future-oriented brand safety

Advertising that appears in the wrong place is a constant threat to the image of world-famous brands. Therefore, this issue should be on the agenda before there is an embarrassing cause for it.

A resilient brand safety strategy must be based on the continuous observation of the constantly changing content so that advertising can always be placed where customers rate it as positive and relevant.

This is why you should think about a proactive brand safety approach for the future now. Also consider whether and how working with a provider of AI for contextualization could help you find the right balance between brand suitability and reach for your brand and navigate the increasingly programmatic world of online advertising with increasing sovereignty .

Tech Finder company in the article

About the author:

Andreas Neu is Senior Client Partner DACH at Oracle Data Cloud (MOAT and Grapeshot). Grapeshot offers brand-safe keyword targeting and analytics solutions in programmatic environments and uses self-learning algorithms to organize large amounts of data and derive measures from it. MOAT enables cross-platform marketing analytics in real time and helps with the quality assurance of digital advertising.

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