• Advertising

How to Identify the Best Brand Safety Tools: 9 Questions to Select Wisely

Team InMobi
5 min read
Posted on April 25, 2019

As issues relating to brand safety become ever-greater concerns for advertisers, a number of brand safety tools have come out in the market purporting to address these woes. But can these solutions and management platforms actually protect your brand and ensure no poor ad placements?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of tools out there that claim to be able to keep your brand safe but won’t actually be able to. How do brand marketers determine which options are worthwhile and which one won’t be able to help? When reviewing various brand safety solutions, be sure to ask these nine questions to determine ultimate effectiveness.

1) How is Brand Safety Defined?

Unfortunately, there’s no one universally agreed-upon definition of brand safety, as we highlighted in our previous post. But, there are certain placements that are off limits for just about all brands, like fake news sites.

Before choosing a solution, make sure their definitions align with yours. If not, then see if they are willing to alter their definition to suit your needs.

2) How Does the Solution Address Brand Suitability?

While some ad placements are downright damaging and problematic, others are not not ideal.

Brand safety refers to issues that are likely to damage a brand’s reputation and/or bottom line. A placement that’s just not suitable is likely to only put an advertiser in an uncomfortable situation - but nothing else probably beyond that. It’s important to choose a platform capable of making this key distinction.

3) How Does the Tool Differentiate Between Various Environments?

Many brands aim to have their ads appear within a variety of digital environments, from desktop and mobile web inventory to mobile and OTT apps. When running cross-device campaigns, it’s crucial that a chosen brand safety solution is capable of distinguishing between the different environments and their relative risks.

4) How Does the Tool Work with Other Ad Tech Platforms and Players?

Ultimately, brand safety is an ecosystem-wide concern. All it takes is one weak link for an issue to appear that affects everyone else. An ideal brand safety solution has deep integrations with everyone involved on both the supply side and the demand side to be truly effective.

5) How Does the Solution Categorize Properties and Content?

Every brand safety solution has its definition of what both premium inventory and potentially problematic placements look like. The more granular they are on both accounts, the more control brands have over tackling the issue and the more likely they are to avoid an unsafe placement.

6) At What Point Does the Solution Apply its Filters? When is Brand Safety Protection Implemented?

Within digital advertising, brand safety tools are either working before or after the bid. With a prebid solution, the tool will flag before the ad is ever run whether a potential placement is likely problematic or not. In comparison, a postbid solution will flag instances after the fact, providing verification on whether a live placement was problematic or not.

Ideally, it’s best to have a solution in place with both prebid and post-placement tracking. That way, many potential issues are prevented from cropping up in the first place. Plus, there is definitive proof in the rare instance a problem is believed to have arisen.

7) How Does the Tool Determine Where the Ad is Running?

This seems like a simple question, but it’s not always an easy one to answer. For instance, as fraud like domain spoofing and SDK spoofing becomes more common, it can sometimes be difficult to determine where an ad ran. It can also be hard to determine if the ad was viewable and appeared in the expected location. Ideally, a brand safety solution should be able to determine this baseline.

8) Are Other Tactics Besides Whitelists and Blacklists Applied?

Blacklists and whitelists are among the most common brand safety tactics deployed. Blacklists involve blocking certain terms or properties. whitelists only allow ads to appear within certain predefined scenarios.

They’re largely effective, but sometimes they’re too effective. They can prevent a brand from seeing maximum possible reach at the expense of brand safety. A good brand safety solution employs more than blacklist and whitelists to help advertisers reach the most people while still guaranteeing brand safety.

9) How Does The Tool Approach Non-Homogenous Content?

In some cases, it’s easy and straightforward to determine if a property is brand safe or not. For instance, a pornographic website is pretty much without fail entirely off limits for the vast majority of brands from a brand safety perspective.

But what about news apps or websites with user-generated content? In those instances, while the property may be fine in one instance, it could be totally inappropriate in another. Ideally, a chosen brand safety has the ability to determine brand-safe placements at the content level.

What Criteria Matters Most to You?

What else do you consider when making brand safety tool decisions? Please send us your comments on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

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