3 Tips to approach brand safety head on in 2019

Brand safety has been front and center this year. Here's how advertisers can prepare for it in the coming months.

According to eMarketer, 54.6 percent of total marketers said brand safety would become a greater concern for them in 2018. And it’s true that the topic of brand safety has been front and center this year.

It’s no surprise that with the rapid growth of the internet, social media and the digital ecosystem as a whole, there is a critical need for better controls and safety measures.

Brand safety, however, often leaves many companies with the question, “What measures can I take to effectively protect my brand and still deliver powerful results?”

That’s what makes brand safety not only important but also challenging in the world of advertising — it’s the need for shielding against unwanted associations while still driving results that make an impact. After all, everything is at stake: advertising budgets, reputations and relationships.

Looking ahead, brand safety will continue to play a major role in the advertising industry. As we approach 2019, here’s how advertisers should prepare for brand safety in the new year.

Related: Brand safety measures for YouTube advertising

1. First, define brand safety.

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth mentioning — defining brand safety and what it means for your business is step one.

Every company owns its own brand safety. If your ad appears on a negative website, it’s your reputation that’s at stake.

So it’s necessary to own your brand safety and define what it means to you. Sure, there is the IAB Gold Standard which is an excellent guideline to follow, but go beyond that. Brand safety is subjective. An alcohol and beverage company may have different tolerances than a retail company.

Think about what brand safety means for you.

2. Find the balance between what is safe and what is relevant.

While adtech and programmatic continue to advance, advertisers are still skeptical of brand safety solutions and just how impactful they can be. A major underlying concern is a balance between safety and relevancy.

Advertisers want to reach the largest target audience without risking their reputation (or without missing out on the audiences that could be driving results). It’s a catch-22 for advertisers.

Whitelisting is one solution to this. Brands have been employing humans to whitelist safe content and websites, but it’s not enough anymore to scour the web manually for safe content. Whitelisting is extremely powerful, but what if this method could be scaled and effective for advertisers?

Enter machine learning.

By employing smart technology, advertisers don’t have to limit themselves to handpicked whitelisted websites. Technology powered by machine-learning can experiment, test and learn from past campaigns to generate unique insights and identify ad placements that are safe and most likely to drive the best results.

The solution is a scalable brand safety net where companies get the best of both worlds: brand safety and high-impact results.

3. Brand safety isn’t black and white.

Because we’re on the topic of whitelisting, let’s talk about how brand safety is more than just blacklists and whitelists.

Sure, blacklisting unsafe content and curating harmless sites or channels is one place to start but there’s much more beyond these two methods. At Strike Social, we recommend some of these key strategies to protect your brand:

  • Use a combination of negative keywords injunction with blacklists
  • Don’t just whitelist domains — go deep and conduct an analysis on pages (an entire site may have unsafe topics or sections)
  • Don’t set it and forget it — review your blacklists and keywords on a regular basis. The internet changes fast. Keep up with the content your brand appears against.

Related: Addressing brand safety measures for Google advertising

As we move into 2019, prepare your team for next year’s challenges ahead. Define what brand safety will mean for you next year and what measures you can begin taking now to prepare for a successful year.

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