IAB Europe and FreeWheel Dive into Brand Safety

IAB Europe’s annual Brand Safety Poll conducted at the end of last year found that: Privacy concerns are more of […]

IAB Europe’s annual Brand Safety Poll conducted at the end of last year found that:

  • Privacy concerns are more of a challenge than last year
  • 70% of respondents think that technology is helping to solve brand safety concerns
  • 76% disagree or strongly disagree that contextual advertising and brand safety are the same
  • A range of tools are used to ensure brand safety – inclusion lists, exclusion lists, verification partners and keyword targeting
  • The majority of respondents think that brand safety requires a bespoke approach to each client’s needs
  • Brand suitability plays a role in 90% of respondents’ campaigns
  • Traditional digital and in-gaming are the platforms that respondents feel need more support to tackle brand safety

Our Senior Manager of Marketing and Industry Programmes, Marie-Clare Puffett sat down with Emmanuel Josserand, Senior Director, Brand, Agency and Industry Relations at FreeWheel to dive into the results in a bit more detail.

Q. Privacy has increased as a concern, why do you think this is?

Privacy has always been a concern, but over the past few years, this has been exacerbated and consumers are now a lot more cautious about how their data is being used. The various data leakages or even fraud scandals that have recently taken place, as well as the mis-use of consumer data by some companies for advertising purposes have likely been a trigger to consumer concerns. 

In fact, we recently published a report on consumers’ attitudes and perspectives when it comes to ad-supported streaming services.  One of the key findings of this report is that, while consumers are fine or even receptive to ads related to their interests or hobbies, a vast majority (above 60% across Western Europe) indicated that they do not want to share their information to receive personalised advertising. Which means that all players in the data-driven advertising ecosystem should prioritise the use and data privacy within their strategies. 


Q. The majority of respondents think that brand safety requires a bespoke approach according to the client. How can brand safety approaches be customised to different clients’ needs?

Well, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every brand needs to think about where and what their audience is doing and where they are. There will be some obvious content/site issues such as hate speech, pirated content and graphic sites, but some of the categories can sometimes be confusing. A site with content about rehabilitating horses after an injury could be flagged under Death & Injury and meanwhile it’s a heart-warming piece of content and the brand might be missing that user in an emotionally positive moment. In a one-size-fits-all solution, this would limit the Brand and be a missed opportunity.  Agencies and the industry need to have honest conversations with Brands and not be overly risk-averse.  Currently, we are of the view that only using the brand-safety technology is not enough and the solution is unlikely to simply be a list of thousands of keywords. Individual and honest conversations will help Brands find the right mix for brand safety.

Q. A range of tools are now used to address brand safety. How can these tools be used together?

From a technology standpoint, industry players should all be working with an IVT vendor as well as a contextual brand safety specialist. It is so important for tech providers to continuously work towards improving their methodology. Ideally the technology should also be combined with teams who can explore items that run high to identify false positives and find ways to work around to continuously ameliorate.  In the same vein, it is also important to flag those true positives to potentially limit specific partners which can be a particular publisher, a long tail or lesser quality player. Ultimately, there is never a substitute for knowing your customer and/or content providers. You should feel confident that they would not allow a piece of content to run that could be damaging to advertisers. Any piece that could be flagged as controversial should be tagged for no ads. We all know the NSFW (Not Safe For Work), maybe we could establish a NSFA (Not Safe for Advertising), this would help limit poor brand association and reinforce brand safety and suitability.

Q. Brand suitability is now part of the majority of campaigns according to the survey results, what do you think has driven this?

Brands are spending millions to build their reputation and attract their desired audiences. In this digital world, with rampant fraud and bots, there are a lot of uncertainties as to where your brand could end up which could easily undermine a brand’s high-earned reputation. 

So, there is a strong appetite from brands and their agencies to access the right platforms, with the right content, to ensure brand suitability. From an advertiser’s perspective context is becoming a prerequisite and technology will play an important role in ensuring advertisers can plan and book their campaign in a way that will guarantee their brands are being seen in the appropriate or suitable environment, i.e. in line with their values.

Q. The respondents of the survey were divided in terms of the stakeholder group most responsible for brand safety; how can we work together as an industry to tackle this?

This is an interconnected world and interoperability is essential. And this is true in many different areas, but particularly when it comes to data. And everyone, from DSP, DMP, CMP, SSP to agencies or publishers have a part to play; all stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure that data privacy and brand safety is at the core of everything they do. And buyers should have the right partners and mechanisms in place to buy the most premium inventory which will guarantee a safe haven for brands. 


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