How to Ensure Your Ad Lands in a Brand-safe Environment

Submitted by Kat Pilnick
January 22, 2020

Brand safety is an ongoing concern for today’s advertisers, with 60% of marketers saying it’s a serious problem for their advertising efforts.

Behind these concerns is a proliferation of disreputable websites and content – nearly 10% of digital ad impressions are surrounded by unsuitable content – combined with inherent limitations on how precisely advertisers can control where their ads run.

But there are steps advertisers can take to minimize brand risk, such as identifying and avoiding risky environments, working with trusted companies for their ad placements, and advertising on generally safe platforms like multiscreen TV. Taking these steps to strategically protect a brand can have tangible effects on the bottom line.


Brand Safety Basics

Brand safety is all about protecting a brand’s reputation, especially in online environments. At its core, a brand-safe environment is any advertising setting that wouldn’t cause harm to a company’s public image. For most businesses, this means that surrounding content has no inappropriate, offensive, or otherwise disreputable material. Media platforms like print, radio, and cross-screen TV tend to pose the least risk because they usually have strict content and quality standards.

Still, brand-safe environments naturally vary by brand. For example, auto dealers typically try to avoid advertising alongside information about crashes and recalls, but this content could be entirely suitable for brands in different industries.


Environment’s Effects on Brands

Associating a business with trusted, high-quality content can make viewers like a brand more, remember it better, and interact with it more. Conversely, a low-quality ad environment can harm a brand’s efforts and reputation across the board.

One May 2019 study published by Integral Ad Science (IAS) compared users’ perceptions of ads on high-quality websites versus the same ads on low-quality sites.

IAS defines a high-quality site as one that contains no questionable content and should be safe for all brands. A low-quality site, on the other hand, is still suitable for most brands but may include content like partial nudity, such as swimsuit photos. The study did not look at sites posing greater brand risk, such as those with illegal or explicit material like hate speech or adult content.

The study found that, compared to those on low-quality sites, ads on high-quality websites:


These perceptions strongly influence consumers and can therefore have direct impacts on a company’s ROI. In fact, a study published in August 2019 found that 80% of consumers would reduce or stop their purchases of products advertised near extreme or dangerous content. And 90% said it’s somewhat or very important for advertisers to make sure their ads don’t appear near offensive, inappropriate, or dangerous content.

According to consumers, this is advertisers’ responsibility. In an open-ended question, 70% of consumers said ensuring an appropriate ad environment is at least partially the advertiser’s responsibility. Also sharing responsibility, according to respondents, are the ad agency (68%), the website owner (61%), and the technology provider (46%).


Protecting Your Brand

There are several actions you can take preemptively to ensure your ads are running in brand-safe environments. Here are some key steps:

  • Define your own levels of acceptable risk. Decide broadly what types of content you’re willing to have your brand associated with.
  • Use blacklists with your advertising partners to exclude content at the site or content provider level.
  • Work with partners that you’re confident in to run your ad in brand-safe environments, like TV.

Effectv can help you build your brand while protecting it at every turn. We only run ads in high-quality, professionally produced content, so you never need to worry that your ad will appear in user-generated content or low-quality environments.

Our CrossReach solutions even take brand safety a few steps further and ensure minimal ad fraud. Effectv’s platforms help to prevent fraudulent and other detrimental activities such as:

  • Ad stacking: Hiding some ads behind others but still registering clicks.
  • Domain and bundle ID spoofing: Misrepresenting to advertisers where their content will appear.
  • Bot traffic: Registering automated activity as real impressions and interactions.
  • Non-viewability: Counting impressions even if the ad isn’t meaningfully viewable, such as if it loads at the bottom of a page and the user doesn’t scroll far enough to see it.

Additionally, with Effectv’s capabilities to precisely target audiences based on audience characteristics and geography, we can help you reach the right audiences for your brand and avoid the ones unlikely to be interested in your message. This means minimal ad waste and maximum results.

Altogether, Effectv can help you reach your ideal audiences within brand-safe content. Our solutions help protect your reputation while ensuring your ad dollars are making the biggest positive impact for your bottom line.


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