Is there one central industry-wide brand safety definition within the ad tech space that all digital advertisers must follow? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
While there are certain ad placements that are deemed less than ideal by just about all digital marketing pros out there, there’s also a lot of gray areas and nuance when it comes to what brand safety includes and excludes within the realm of programmatic advertising.
Here’s how the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) has attempted to define brand safety: “The term ‘Brand Safety’ describes the controls that companies in the digital advertising supply chain employ to protect brands against negative impacts to the brand’s consumer reputation associated with specific types of content, criminal activity, and/or related loss of return on investment.”
But this definition leaves a lot to be desired. It’s hardly a handy catch-all definition that can be applied to make sure a brand’s image is not tainted by the accidental placement of an ad next to inappropriate content due to issues stemming from programmatic advertising.
This vagueness is likely on purpose. That’s because what is acceptable to one organization may be totally unacceptable to another one. For example, while one brand may be loathe to have its ads appear on fake news sites or next to controversial social media posts, others may have no qualms with it.
“Every brand has their own unique positioning, their own target audience, their own set of brand values, and really the brand safety protections that they enable should be reflective of all of that,” said DoubleVerify COO Matt McLaughlin. “While we certainly can come up with a generic definition of brand safety as a practice, what’s really critical is that every company address how they’re going to implement protection that’s in line with their own products and positioning.”
However, many brands, by and large, aim to steer clear of these content categories:
These categories are hardly set in stone though! After all, a major beer brand would have no qualms advertising within an alcohol-related app, even if such a placement would be deemed unsafe for many other advertisers.
In the debate on brand safety, it’s crucial to differentiate between ad placements that are not ideal versus those that are downright detrimental to the brand and it’s perception in the market.
Nevertheless, ad placements that are either not suitable or not safe should be avoided. Neither one leads to an ideal situation.
Interested in learning more about brand safety? Be sure to watch our February 2019 webinar on demand, and to check out these resources: