The safe road to brand safety

Context is back in vogue, and with technological developments such as machine learning, businesses are now in a position to match their advertising to the most relevant content.

Gary Neal, COO Smartology

Online advertising has been the subject of increased media scrutiny for some time, with many examples of brands appearing alongside content of an inappropriate, extreme or offensive nature. Indeed, tech giant Google recently admitted that it might never be able to guarantee it is 100 per cent brand safe on YouTube.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the issue of brand safety has become a big concern for businesses looking to protect their reputation. Factors such as safety concerns, fake news and transparency are forcing companies to re-think their digital strategy, potentially moving advertising spend from social media platforms and back to premium publishers who offer them a high-quality and a safe space to display their content.

Context is back in vogue, and with technological developments such as machine learning, businesses are now in a position to match their advertising to relevant content and articles to a greater extent.

Here are a few key factors that can help with brand safety:

A rigorous approach to safety

As part of your advertising strategy you need to ensure you are clear on the type of content which you want to avoid at all costs. This ensures that content is not shown on pages that are inappropriate, avoiding matches that are potentially harmful to your brand. There are a number of ways of achieving this, whether it’s the blunt keyword approach (“don’t not show my ad next to content which contains this word”) or the more sophisticated topic approach, where brands select certain themes and topics to avoid.

Utilising technology effectively

Systems which use machine learning and in particular natural language processing can efficiently profile millions of articles. Article content can be profiled as soon as it has been published, with the weighting of these profiles enabling the technology to find the very best match between brand and publisher content.

Targeting premium media

There are many advantages of working with high-quality premium publishers. They deliver better campaign engagement levels and there are reputational halo benefits of being in a quality environment. Advertisers should, therefore, take time to understand where their adverts will be placed to ensure they are hitting the right target audience.

Recent research by the World Media Group, the body representing the world’s top media brands, shows that campaigns perform better (than the Moat benchmark) when they advertise with premium publishers.

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