Taking Care of BS: It’s Time to Rethink Brand Safety

Taking Care of B.S.
It’s Time to Rethink Brand Safety

 

The advent of digital technology has transformed the advertising industry more in the past five years than the medium itself has changed in the previous fifty. But, along with the advantages of more precise targeting and measurement tools, comes one major issue: brand safety.

 

 

But there’s a bigger problem at hand.  Brand safety has become buzz-worthy jargon that means different things to different people.  Brand safety, as defined by some, is the practice of ensuring ads only appear adjacent to content that does no harm to an advertiser’s reputation. To another, the term could mean something quite different, such as ensuring an ad is targeted within relevant content and viewable. Simply solving for the issue of “brand safety” is not a solution when there’s no one agreed upon definition.

 

In order to build trust and solve for the issue plaguing our industry, we must change the brand safety conversation. It’s no longer about where; it’s about how. We must look beyond where ads are playing and address all of the issues of how – viewability, validation and domain transparency.  That’s why it’s time to talk about budget safety.

 

 

Viewability: It’s not a currency, it’s a necessity

For years the industry has relied on viewability as a currency to measure how much of an ad is actually seen. To the Media Rating Council (MRC) an ad 50% in-view for two seconds is all that’s needed. For GroupM, they expect for all 100% of an ad to be shown on-screen for any amount of time. But what if brands no longer had to wonder how much of their ad was viewed? Or for how long? What if brands were billed on the impressions that were 100% in view, and viewed from start to finish by a real person? Viewability should no longer be a currency – it should simply be the norm.

 

In order to achieve budget safety, brands and publishers alike must raise the bar on viewability, and agree viewability isn’t a currency to be traded on, it’s a necessity for budget safety.

 

The Essential Layer: Third-Party Verification

Brands want to be sure that someone saw their ad, ideally for more than two seconds. And, they deserve to know.  While publishers have become more sophisticated at quickly identifying and thwarting bots and measuring views, we should be playing by the ‘don’t just take our word for it’ rules. Third-party verification is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ It is an essential layer of budget security for both brands and agencies.

 

And, just like with any market, as demand increases, so does supply. Today there are dozens of third-party verification partners that publishers can employ as their extra layer of security and validation. This capability makes it even more essential for brands to ensure their partners that they are A.) taking an honest look at fraudulent traffic and B.) employing the right third-parties to address their concerns such as validating human views, combating malware and fighting internet-piracy.

 

The good news is that the industry is moving quickly in the right direction. There are third-party partners such as the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), MOAT, and the MRC that can help to maintain budget safety in 2018.

 

It’s time to tackle the issue of domain transparency for once, and for all.

The only way that budget safety will ever be fully realized is if we tackle the industry’s issue of domain transparency for once, and for all.  In 2017, the IAB took a giant step forward to aid publishers in their quest to combat spoofing by bringing transparency to the supply-chain. The launch of Ads.txt, a simple solution that lets publishers communicate which supply-side platforms (SSPs), networks, and exchanges they work directly with is a first step.

 

Adoption is picking up speed as publishers and demand-side partners (DSPs) begin to aggressively verify the publishers they access. This cuts out unverified resellers and eliminates counterfeit inventory from being sold, which protects  the  brand’s reputation, as well as their budgets and the publisher’s prestige.

 

In 2018, we must continue to invest in these types of solutions to safeguard brands against purchasing counterfeit inventory and landing next to offensive content. That’s why budget safety is of the utmost importance.

 

 

It’s not just about the “what” and “where” – effective reach is important, too.

Budget safety doesn’t stop at where or for how long your ad is being viewed. Brands also want to know that they’re reaching their target audience, and making a lasting impression. The more targeted the message, the more effective it will be. This is not a new phenomenon. By leveraging first-party insights and collaborating directly with the publisher, marketers can build a creative bespoke to the environment.  It’s critical that advertisers prioritize spend on effective placements, not just efficient placements.

 

This year, 44% – or $237 billion – of all ad dollars spent globally will be in a digital/IP-connected environment. By 2020, the spend is projected to increase to $291 billion – the equivalent of half of all global advertising dollars.  Key takeaway: brands are spending more on advertising than ever before. As traditional media begins to look more like digital and digital more like traditional, brands and publishers alike must elevate and change the conversation around brand safety or we’ll never find a way to solve for the problem and it’s many definitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Q&A With
Gadi Amit

Founder, New Deal Design

Gadi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” - a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gadi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Gandi Amit

Found New Deal Design

Gandi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” -- a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gandi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Jonathan Miranda

Emerging Strategy Principal, Salesforce

Another expectation among younger generations seems to be personalization. How are you seeing this play out in media?

Jonathan: If you go into the world of advertising and marketing, customized, personalized advertising is more important than ever before. There’s a realization that eight years of funny commercials that we’ve showed everybody probably for the fourth time, doesn’t work anymore. So there’s a lot of companies moving towards specialized advertising.

How does this type of personalization translate to personalizing content beyond advertising? Who’s going to predict what people will want to watch, and do it first?

Jonathan: It’s not about being the first to predict what people want to watch. It's different. It’s about getting viewers to browse. You want to show them the value of all of the money Hulu has spent and the great range of TV and film for them to choose from.

Q&A With
Julie DeTragila

Head of Research & Insights, Hulu

Julie: There are vast differences between the way under 35-year-olds watch TV and over 35-year-olds watch TV. I grew up in a world where there were maybe 10 channels, and my viewing changed as technology and options changed. Younger viewers started from a really different place. Everything has always been on-demand. Anything they ever wanted to see was available to them, and they therefore have different expectations for TV.

How so?

Julie: One of the things we found with Gen Z is that they really want to be immersed in something for a long time. They want to have content that they can live with for a while; it’s like this long, seamless storytelling. They’ll knock off a couple episodes a night and it will last a couple of months. And then they’ll re-watch it a million times over.

What other shifts have you seen happen-with Gen Z but also more broadly-with the rise of streaming?

Julie: For years, television had to deliver a specific rating. Shows had to appeal broadly or else they wouldn’t survive. And those days are long gone because, with streaming services, shows can reach hundreds of thousands of people or tens of thousands of people and still be considered successful. There’s more experimentation with the types of content; we’re not locked into an hour, a half hour, a comedy, etc. The industry can create really niche shows to appeal to niche audiences, but also simultaneously create big, broad experiences that are shared by millions.

Q&A With
Larissa May

Founder, #HalftheStory

Your work focuses a lot on Gen Zs who, for better or worse, are dubbed “digital natives.” How do you think a generation of digitally native audiences view digital content differently than older generations?

Larissa: I think for young people digital content is a way they’re able to explore their own identities through the story... They want to see themselves and their stories in the content that they’re engaging with.

Tell us a little more about this digital content as Gen Z’s form of self-reflection.

Larissa: Digital content is sort of like a currency. I find that young people want to watch things that their friends are watching so that they can have conversations about it. For example, with Euphoria, young people were just kind of in love with the characters. It was very timely and a bit provocative, and then there was a way that they could see themselves in these stories and connect with their friends about the topics and ideas in the show.

And then also they could almost embody these characters in their own life. I really do think that the TV shows that young people are buying into are actually influencing their culture and their trends and even their language that they’re using.

Q&A With
Richard Frankel​

Global Creative Director, Spotify

What does the future of personalization look like?

Richard: I think it’s all down to trust. We're going to see more opportunity on platforms like Hulu and Spotify where the user trusts us.

That’s really interesting. Another area we wanted to explore is podcasts, and their relationship to video. For example, the show Homecoming is an adaptation of a podcast; the podcast Office Ladies is a spin-off from a TV show. Why do you think the two formats work so well together?

Richard: Anything at all that drives conversation in pop culture, and TV does a lot of that, is worthy of consideration in a podcast environment. Any of these conversations can become multiple audio streams that evolve with experts, interviews, and all kinds of narrative threads that can flesh out characters, or narrative development, or whatever's happening in those shows.