Magnetic’s CEO James Green is the author of the April MarketingLand.com column which tackles a topic you most likely have heard about recently: Brand Safety.
What is brand safety? Brand Safety protects brands from aligning ads to objectionable content, and from fostering brand associations that could tarnish a brand image and perception.
In James Green’s last Marketing Land column in March 2017, A digital marketing CEO’s prescription to cure advertising fraud, James laid out a recipe for the marketing industry to combat ad fraud. With the rise of brand safety, it’s natural to expand on the need for transparency, adhering to consumer demands, and breaking down “walled gardens”, which is the responsibility of technology vendors, agencies, brands, and platforms.
Here is James Green’s advice on Brand Safety:
Recently, major advertisers like Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Verizon, and hundreds of others have pulled advertising from YouTube and Google Display Network. We’re now seeing major advertisers pull out of traditional television spots during The O’Reilly Factor as its eponymous host faces controversial allegations of sexual misconduct. While RBC Capital analysts believe the financial effects on Google will be a minimal 1.7% because of Google’s dominance of search, and the fact that Bill O’Reilly still has a job and paycheck (as of writing this), brand safety is a serious issue that has gone unnoticed until now.
Due in part to the rise of populism and our polarized political environment, consumers are hyper-aware of controversy. As people and consumers demand action and answers, brands must follow. Brand safety is a result of populism and whether you work within the walled gardens of Google and Facebook, or are part of the thousands of other digital media companies, it’s incumbent that you ensure the sanctity of your product and relationship to your customers and theirs.
Google and Facebook have created a walled garden and a non-transparent environment that must be penetrated. There’s no blame on them for vying for greater market share, as every business that has ever been created has tried to corner the market, or create an exclusive experience where profits can be reaped with less competition. This is true irrespective of the industry. For example, mining and oil conglomerates exploit natural resources, Microsoft took hold of operating systems, Oracle of databases, AT&T in telecoms, and Uber and Lyft disrupted taxis and now have their own duopoly in transportation.
And as these companies grow larger and larger, bad things happen when competition is reduced: blood diamonds, wars for oil, Microsoft bundling services (e.g. Netscape vs. Explorer), price gouging, poor customer service, and predatory behavior.
Google and Facebook are pretty great at producing wonderful, crowd pleasing products. But they are pretty terrible about allowing anyone other than them to have control. Thus, you can do super granular audience targeting on Facebook, but there’s no change you will be analyzing that audience off the platform. Or you can reach people who are searching for your product on Google, but you can only target that audience if you have their email addresses.
This control needs to be relinquished if we want to operate in a brand safe environment.
Transparency is core to Magnetic’s business model and always has been. What we do, as most companies in our space can and should do, is take a multi-pronged approach to brand safety. It’s the right mix of technology and people working proactively to protect the integrity of brands in their media buys. Along with our sophisticated, home-built data science that is always getting better at identifying people from bots, we also use a quiver of partners including IAS, Moat, DoubleVerify and anyone else our clients ask us for. We can then pre-screen ad inventory, conduct site analysis and scoring, utilize pre-bid targeting and category and keyword exclusion, to help ensure adherence to brand standards. We couple technology with the right people to manage black- and white-lists, and constantly monitor campaigns and post-impression reporting, which makes our efforts for transparency a reality.
The issue of transparency continues as more brands demand inventory that is consistent with their good images. Popular culture has helped to elevate brands and brand categories; the rise of populism has elevated controversial content categories. To begin solving the challenges of brand safety, and of transparency, I call on the big guys to do as the little guy does, and start working together.
Partnerships help create new ideas and can hold each other accountable. You can cross the aisle, build a bridge, open a door, write an API– whatever the choice may be – the solution will come when we do it together.
Read the full Marketing Land column, My Advice to Google and Facebook on Brand Safety, and discover how you can promote brand safety and transparency to drive the industry forward.
Magnetic is an artificial intelligence company that uses machine learning to deliver smarter, faster, and more effective advertising. Our powerful AI platform continuously analyzes the attributes of over 350 million live user profiles alongside real-time inventory supply and bid opportunities to deliver highly performant audiences and profitable campaigns for our clients.