Brand Safety’s Moment Has Arrived (At Last)
Columnist Rob Rasko explains how and why digital marketers can ensure their digital ads are placed on the right websites for maximum effectiveness and brand safety.
When I started the 614 Group in 2011, digital brand safety was a key component of the original business plan. However, if I had tried to hold an actual summit on the topic, I probably wouldn’t have been able to fill a phone booth with high-level ad-tech veterans.
Fast forward to three years later: in November, our group hosted a summit and launched our Brand Safety Series, an ongoing franchise dedicated to fostering dialogue that solves our industry’s biggest problems. More than 100 digital advertising and interactive industry executives attended.
How did that happen? What changed in our industry to allow brand safety to matter – and make people care?
Right Place, Wrong Time
Now — more than ever — brand safety is in the ad-tech spotlight. For good reason…
As the gap between expectation and reality in digital advertising becomes exposed, the pain becomes more acute. Consumers are more educated and interested in the differentiating points between brands, and it is critical brands ensure their ads don’t end up being seen in the wrong context.
Consumers are not focused on just one aspect of a brand. They want to know what a brand stands for and represents. A single impression on the wrong website can tarnish a consumer’s perception of a brand indefinitely — a cost too high for brands already fighting to convert ad impression into buys.
As Larry Allen, SVP of Xaxis Marketplace, said during our Brand Safety Summit:
“Brand safety is really about enabling a client access to inventory that is in an acceptable environment for them to put their message in front of an audience. They certainly don’t want to have their brand message being put next to pornography or next to piracy…There is an enormous amount of groundswell in the market right now where we’ve got advertisers and publishers talking about the topic. The media is all over this….”
The foundation of trust between a consumer and a brand oftentimes starts with ad impressions that begin the communication dialogue between the two. Just as most CEO’s wouldn’t think of an unsafe location as the best place to talk business with a potential partner, a brand shouldn’t pick a website laden with potential malware or hate talk, for instance, to communicate their message.
Redefinition Of Success In Digital Marketing
In addition to issues around risk, brand marketers are getting increasingly savvy about how their budgets are being spent and the return on the investment they can get for their expenditure.
Success is no longer defined as being seen — engagement with the ad is what marketers are after. Jonah Goodhart, CEO and Co-Founder of Moat, explains:
“As brand marketers have continued to increase their spend in digital, understanding effectiveness has reached a breaking point. It is no longer enough to know that an ad was served; we now need to know a lot more to judge success. From viewability and non-human traffic analytics to truly understanding attention, marketers asking questions are discovering a new way to look at the world of digital media.”
David Sendroff, Founder and CEO of Forensiq and anti-fraud panelist at the summit, also supports the notion that the fight against fraud is a necessary industry-wide effort:
“Digital advertising is in its twentieth year which means the market is still in an early growth stage. Why is the industry only now addressing the issue of fraud seriously? Because we all realize that ad fraud unchecked can thwart the trajectory of the fastest growing media in history. By eroding the trust between digital advertising buyers and sellers we will see less digital media investment. In contrast, by helping to ensure that digital media is bought and sold fraud-free we can help realize the promise of advertising that is targeted, effective and accountable.”
As David illustrates, the success of digital depends on taking fraud out of the equation on both the buy and sell side.
As ad-tech evolves and the desire to improve our industry becomes a higher priority as we work to gain television’s budget, gathering the greatest minds and sharing ideas about our collective future in a candid, transparent way on brand safety at our summit yielded enormous benefits for everyone.
Looking ahead to 2015, I’m optimistic the conversation started by our Brand Safety Summit will continue to drive our industry forward and bring awareness to the topic of brand safety.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.