Why ‘brand suitability’ is replacing brand safety
By Seb Joseph
Being overprotective of where their ads appear has had drawbacks for advertisers. Block lists guarantee advertisers brand-safe placements but they also come with a hefty price in terms of limited reach and engagement. As more advertisers feel the costs of artificially constraining inventory through the use of bloated block lists, they are considering placing advertising on content at the margins of their standard brand-safety strategies.
Advertisers’ new, more nuanced approach to brand safety is more focused on finding places suitable for their ads than avoiding inappropriate content. For example, a consumer packaged goods advertiser will have a different tolerance for risk (and thus for edgier content) than will an advertiser for a gaming company. Ultimately, these advertisers must figure out how to strike the right balance between being very strict on brand safety versus achieving the level of reach they need.
“When we think about brand suitability, the better the definitions that we have for content that is categorized by the platforms, the better choices we have for where we run our ads,” said Unilever’s svp of global media, Luis Di Como.
Ad-targeting tools from platforms do not always have definitions for sifting content so that marketers can know the type of music videos their ads might run against, said Di Como. While advertisers might not consider all types of music as unsavory in the way a video promoting terrorism is, Di Como wants Unilever ads to steer clear of certain styles.
“Music [involves] a wide spectrum of different artists,” Di Como said. “You can go from classical to hard-core rock that could be quite violent, which is a place we don’t want to be. If we’re not able to classify this type of content, then we’ll potentially have to remove some of the investment. What need to do is ensure our investment is used as a force for good.”
In 2017 a brand safety crisis ensued when advertisers found their YouTube ads had appeared next to videos about terrorism. Small pockets of marketers have said that no one-size-fits-all strategy would enable them to avoid inappropriate or irrelevant content. But their views have been drowned out by the panic among other advertisers.
More advertisers turned to block lists (to avoid specific keywords, channels or publishers) and protect their ads. The use of block lists within the ad-targeting tools provided by ad-verification companies led to considerable amounts of content being automatically blocked, but this eliminated much “acceptable” content along with “unacceptable” content. Over time the block lists have grown so long that they limit an advertiser’s reach, since they restrict what would might be ordinarily deemed be appropriate content.
Thus, block lists has not delivered the outcome desired by advertisers. The frequency of occurrences of major brand-safety issues may have slowed since 2017, but the risk remains (as evidenced earlier this month when Samsung and L’Oréal found they had advertised on YouTube videos promoting climate change denial).
“You might think that the longer the list, which can be feature up to thousands of words, the greater the rigor on it. But that’s not the reality,” said Tracy …read more