June 23, 2021

Is Brand Safety in Danger?

In the last 12 months alone, consumers doubled their content consumption. You might be thinking, “great news for advertisers!” but the reality is not quite as rosy. Over-blocking and ineffective blocking actually led to brands missing out on premium publisher sites and relevant customers. In a recent panel discussion, Butler/Till team members along with representatives from DoubleVerify (DV), the IAB Brand Academy, and Taboola, dug into this prescient question: how do we maintain brand safety in this increasingly divisive environment?

Firstly, “brand safety” might not be the right focus for the moment, and “brand suitability” might be a better gauge moving forward. Instead of putting up barriers to ensure a brand’s content isn’t placed alongside something that could jeopardize its reputation, we can be more proactive and place media next to suitable content. It’s a subtle distinction but an important one. As marketers, we must appreciate the value of the open web and support trusted news sites. Choosing the right partners and the right experts is key to success. Times are changing and we need to embrace change instead of fighting it. The sledgehammer approach to blocking is simply no longer a viable option.

The panel then went on to discuss a cookie-free world and how to prepare for this. With the cookie-less future already underway, we need to re-evaluate the potential of different data types, gain better understanding of contextual insights, and read and familiarize ourselves with the industry trends around addressability. In other words, we must constantly be honing our expertise in order to stay relevant.

As we learned in 2020, working reactively and blocking certain keywords can lead to block rates that are above benchmark. The Media Operations team at Butler/Till has been working with our representatives at DoubleVerify to acquire a better understanding of how the keywords are implemented and what the “right” moves to make are in a rapidly changing world. With this knowledge, we can start to push for more discussion when directed to block against certain inflammatory words, ensuring we cover most scenarios in the profiles that are already in place and against the current standard inappropriate content categories.

Brand safety is and always will be top of mind, especially now, as we navigate a media landscape that is full of discord and sometimes outright deceit. The Butler/Till Media Operations team will continue to explore our brand safety capabilities to ensure our clients always get the most out of their investments. But, one thing is clear: “playing it safe” and being reactive instead of proactive, might not lead to brand safety in 2021 and beyond.

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