Brand safety in a programmatic world

Four best practice recommendations

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In a world where programmatic is the buzzword du jour, it's vital to keep the basics around protecting your brand, front of mind. Here, Media Manager Heather McGreevy, provides four best practice measures to take.

Programmatic advertising has been a buzzword in digital advertising for the past couple of years. When we talk about programmatic, we’re typically referring to the use of technology to purchase digital ad inventory as opposed to using an actual human being to book the space.

Sounds good, right? What's not to like about a system that makes your time as a media buyer and client, more efficient? While there’s many advantages to the world of programmatic including providing brands the ability to reach audiences in a more scalable way, there’s been some controversy surrounding brand safety and ad fraud lately.

So how can you protect your brand and utilise programmatic advertising more effectively? These 4 best practices will help you keep your brand safe during campaigns:

Take back control

Find out what brand safety solutions your trading desk has in place before you commit to campaign. If they have this in place, you should be able to protect your brand against common categories such as sensitive content (death, tragedy, sexually suggestive etc.), specific placements (error pages, gambling sites, forums etc.) and content labels (audiences with parental guidance, mature audiences etc.). Some trading desks will also offer “safe from” categories to keep you off pages with blind inventory or will keep you off pages where it’s difficult to determine the presence of risky content. This is the first step to ensuring you still achieve the scale you want but reduces your brand’s risk to showing next to objectionable content.

Be more reactive

It’s important for brands to remember that while these technologies can put everything in place to protect you against more generalised subject areas, there’s still instances where we need to ensure human input on subject matters, stories and scandals that could be damaging to your brand specifically.

Many trading desks will offer a level of security that allows for customisation and will let you respond effectively as events unfold that could potentially harm your brand. Speak to your trading partner before you set up a campaign to ensure you’ve covered all areas related to your brand and how it should appear across all networks to minimise damage to your brand reputation.

Consider more than websites

As we become a more mobile-orientated world, programmatic advertising is reaching more than just generic websites across the network. Ads are appearing programmatically within mobile apps also so it’s important to consider your brand safety here too.

In-app advertising is in no way safer than desktop and mobile web environments (it could potentially pose a greater risk) so always ensure that when trading programmatically, the same safety measures and precautions are used in an app environment as well. Stay away from uncertified apps which are at higher risk of causing advertising fraud and displaying ads after users close the app or potentially making ad calls without displaying the actual ad itself.

Don’t follow the trends

While it’s important for brands to stay relevant, it’s not always important for brands to show next to the hottest internet topics. The main reason for this that not all internet trends are necessarily positive and could be damaging to your brand. A good way to ensure you maintain scale but pull away from non-relevant viral content is to consider adding campaign layers or brand sentiments and exclude anything else that could be considered politics, fake news or controversial topics that are misaligned to your brand values.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of considerations, these four points should help you protect your brand and ensure campaigns deliver a positive impact. If you would like to find out more about how you can keep your brand safe during media campaigns, get in touch and we can chat through your needs.