Brand safety is one of the hot marketing and media topics, with platforms from Google, Facebook and YouTube being brought into question over safety criteria. It’s a fear that isn’t new nor unique to digital marketing, but the scale of content being uploaded and shared has made many exchanges unable to adapt quickly enough to monitor every single piece.

Google remarks that “…with millions of sites in our network and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we recognise that we don’t always get it right. In a very small percentage of cases, ads appear against content that violates our monetization policies. We promptly remove the ads in those instances, but we know we can and must do more”.

What Is “Safety”

The internet is the ultimate forum of free speech. Want to look up how to end your life? You can. Want to find hate sympathises? You can do that too. So at its simplest form, a brand should expect that their messages are not eligible for inventory amongst hate speech, graphic violence and other forms of unsavoury content.

But in a place full of nuance and opinion, is that enough? Safety now moves outside of the most radical to encapsulate:

  • Content type: would a premium brand want to be promoted in Buzzfeed style content?
  • Sentiment: do we want to promote Bali flights on a page about Indonesian terrorism?
  • Fraudulence: are we being placed on reputable sites? Are we associated with fake news?
  • Quality: is there brand alignment across the board?

Why Does Brand Safety Matter Now More Than Ever?

  • Media inventory is expensive – every cent could go towards building brand
  • The role of programmatic digital is increasing
  • Social and viral media – there’s potential for a PR nightmare
  • Our brands are precious – need we say more?
  • It directly impacts the consumer – why would we want users to have a negative brand experience if we could help it?

How Do Brands Safeguard Themselves?

Sizmek’s recent global seminar spoke to the industry on updates to their Peer39 capability. Namely, deeper embed of brand safety into pre-bid media relevance analysis. Semantic analysis, quality, fraud and viewability at page level play a role amongst thousands of criteria to build a more accurate match between brand and page.

More and more, our premium clients in particular are employing Peer39 and dynamic whitelisting, which vets up to 170,000 pages in 30 languages daily, creating a blacklist every 20 seconds.