Brand safety is one of the major challenges for the entire advertising industry; it is relevant not only for native advertising, but also for display ads, in-stream and out-stream video, and other formats. It is a mutual responsibility for all layers within the advertising ecosystem because safety issues occurring in one part of a chain can quickly erode the marketers’ trust in the chosen channel and deteriorate consumer experience altogether.
As new formats emerge and consumers change their perception over time, the marketers’ expectations towards brand safety evolve. Today, publishers also use this term, referring to inadequate controls within the advertising supply chain that may impose risks on their own media brands.
In this article, we will discuss the concept of brand safety that reflects today’s challenges of the advertising market, MGID’s strategy in this regard, and how we approach these challenges at the systemic level.
The big tent definition
Narrowly defined, this term refers to keeping ads from appearing against content that isn’t suitable to the brand values or positioning, i.e. content adjacency. Looking at a wider perspective however, brand safety is an umbrella term that encompasses many reputational concerns and consumer perception of a brand.
The more precise definition given by Brand Safety Institute and TAG focuses on the ability to protect against negative impacts on the brand’s consumer reputation associated with specific types of content, criminal activity, and/or related loss of return on investment. This paradigm implies that the issues of Brand Safety and ROI are deeply correlated and can be integrated into the single concept of Brand Suitability.
With this perspective in mind, Brand Safety issues can be differentiated into the following broad categorical buckets:
- Association with criminal activities (fraud, malware, piracy, counterfeit goods)
- Negative press
- Ad placement (content adjacency, fake news, hate speech, etc.)
- Brand partners
- Data governance (privacy, security, audience verification)
- Ad experience (ad quality and latency)
MGID systemic approach
First of all, at MGID we do not rely on basic technologies and develop our own in-house solutions for brand safety. This enables us to retain full control over the strategy and executive oversight of these processes. Second, by taking centralized control over Brand Safety issues, we make sure that our approach is consistent throughout all divisions and regions of presence. In line with the recommendations developed by TAG, we identified the Brand Safety Officer within our organization and provided training - BSI’s education program and resources necessary to fulfill their responsibilities.
Our Brand Safety solution protects all sides of the digital advertising supply chain and helps advertisers and publishers transact safely in the market. We audit potential partners and do not allow further cooperation with the platforms that have transparency issues or types of content that have potential brand risk (fake news, hate speech, divisive politics, etc.).
From the beginning of our cooperation with brands, we aim to understand the brand’s understanding of their own risk tolerance, preferred content types, audience and demographics. From then on, we can adjust our internal controls to offer a brand-suitable package for each partner.
To manage the content adjacency issues, we delve very deep in our understanding of the web page and advertising content. Our technologies are based on natural language processors and detailed taxonomy. These solutions allow us to analyze and label the content on the go, so the inappropriate placements or ad content can be filtered out.
For example, some publishers in the Indonesia region considered it unsafe for their brands to show images of females without hijabs; in response to this, we developed a dedicated content filter to accommodate this request. For advertisers that wanted to exclude adjacency with Covid-19 content, we created the contextual intelligence solution to catch those pages and exclude them from the wheels of their campaigns.
At MGID, ensuring high-quality traffic and enabling granular Brand Safety controls have always been the top priority for our product development activities. We strictly follow the industry’s best practices and standards developed by the MRC, IAB, and TAG and are always ready to customize our solutions to meet our clients’ exact degrees of tolerance. Finally, we rely on long-term in-housing strategy rather than outsourcing, and our centralized Brand Safety division has the remit to satisfy quality control processes.