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How can publishers ensure brand safety in E-advertising?

Posted by Huzefa Hakim | March 11, 2024

How can publishers ensure brand safety in E-advertising?

Have you imagined how a lack of transparency in traffic quality can make you lose your credibility as a publisher?

Imagine spending a good chunk of money in integrating an ad fraud verification platform, only to realize that the traffic qualified as ‘invalid’ is not really fraudulent

If such traffic is blocked from viewing ads on your platform, you might risk losing premium users who can elevate your earnings through valid impressions.

According to 2022 research, 40% of the respondents (who were leaders from media providers, advertising agencies, and tech companies) mentioned that one of the major concerns in digital advertising is centred around brand safety and suitability of media environments which are expected to rise.

Let’s take a look at how brand safety can be prioritised by publishers amid such rapidly changing scenarios

What is brand safety?

Brand safety in digital advertising refers to the measures and practices that ensure a brand's ads do not appear alongside content that could damage its reputation. This includes preventing ad placements near controversial, offensive, or inappropriate content. The goal is to protect the brand's image and values, ensuring that its advertising efforts contribute positively to its perception and do not inadvertently associate the brand with harmful or undesirable content.

What is the role of IAB in ensuring brand safety?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) plays a pivotal role in setting standards that delineate safe from unsafe advertising environments. But what does this entail, and how are these guidelines formulated?

  1. Defining Brand Safety: IAB provides a comprehensive framework to categorize content, defining what is considered safe and unsafe for advertisers. This involves classifying content that may be perfectly legal and legitimate but potentially harmful to certain brands if associated with them.
  2. Tools and Measures: IAB recommends the use of various tools and measures, such as ad verification services and brand safety vendors, which can provide real-time data and insights on where ads are placed. These tools are crucial in ensuring that ads do not appear next to content that could harm the brand's reputation.
  3. Guidelines and Best Practices: IAB has developed guidelines and best practices that publishers can follow to maintain a safe environment for brands. This includes advice on content moderation, the use of blocklists, and the implementation of robust tagging systems to categorize content effectively.

What strategies can be employed by publishers to ensure brand safety?

1. Avoiding Invalid Traffic (IVT)

Invalid traffic (IVT) includes any clicks or impressions that may not result from genuine user interest. This can range from accidental clicks to sophisticated bot-driven traffic designed to commit ad fraud. Here's how publishers can combat IVT:

  1. Implement sophisticated detection tools: Use advanced IVT detection tools that can identify and filter out both general and sophisticated invalid traffic. This includes real-time monitoring and blocking of suspect traffic sources.
  2. Leverage analytics for anomalies: Regularly analyze traffic data for anomalies. Sudden spikes in traffic without corresponding increases in engagement or conversions may indicate IVT.
  3. Collaborate with ad tech partners: Work with technology partners that specialize in ad fraud prevention. ClearTrust, for example, offers customized solutions that allow publishers to activate specific IVT filters based on their unique challenges, ensuring that their ad inventory remains clean and valuable.

2. Blacklisting keywords

Blacklisting keyword is a strategy to prevent ads from appearing on pages containing content that could harm the brand's reputation. Here's how it works:

  1. Identify sensitive content: Create a comprehensive list of keywords associated with content that is not safe for your brand partners. This can include hate speech, violence, adult content, and other controversial topics.
  2. Use ad-serving filters: Implement filters in your ad-serving platforms that automatically prevent ads from being shown on pages with blacklisted keywords. This requires regular updates to the keyword list to adapt to new trends and threats.
  3. Custom filters for advertisers: Offer advertisers the option to customize their keyword blacklists based on their brand safety criteria. This personalized approach ensures that their ads are always placed in environments aligned with their brand values.

3. Creating a more transparent ecosystem

Transparency is crucial for trust and accountability in the digital advertising ecosystem. Here’s how publishers can enhance transparency:

  1. Transparent reporting: Provide advertisers with detailed reports showing where their ads were placed, the audience reached, and the performance of those ads. This should include data on any IVT detected and the measures taken to mitigate it.
  2. Open communication channels: Establish open lines of communication with advertisers for feedback and concerns regarding ad placements and brand safety. Being responsive and adaptive to advertiser needs reinforces trust.
  3. Disclose partnerships and practices: Disclose any partnerships with third parties, such as ad networks and verification services, and outline the brand safety practices in place. This openness about the supply chain helps build confidence among advertisers.

4. Defining brand safety measures for themselves

Finally, publishers must establish their brand safety standards to ensure a consistent and safe environment for all advertisers. Here's how:

  1. Develop comprehensive policies: Craft clear, comprehensive content and ad placement policies that define what is considered safe and unsafe. This should cover all types of content, including user-generated content, if applicable.
  2. Customized brand safety solutions: Utilize tools like ClearTrust to create custom filters and solutions tailored to specific brand safety needs. This bespoke approach not only addresses unique challenges but also showcases a commitment to maintaining a high standard of brand safety.
  3. Educate staff and partners: Regularly educate internal teams and external partners on the importance of brand safety and the standards you have set. This ensures everyone involved is aligned with the brand safety mission and contributes to a safer advertising environment.

In an era where digital presence can make or break a brand, ensuring brand safety is not just a necessity but a critical investment. Publishers, equipped with the right tools, technology, and partnerships, can create a digital advertising ecosystem where brands not only thrive but also remain insulated from the reputational risks that riddle the online world.