Future of advertising

Is Brand Safety in Danger without Cookies?

From this article, you will learn:

= What is a Brand Safety mechanism?
= How is what is safe and what is not decided?
= What is brand safety for the client and publisher? And what are the risks when it’s not there?
= Will Brand Safety mechanisms be equally effective post-cookies?

What is Brand Safety?

The scope of Brand Safety is broad and might be different for each brand. Its common definition says that it is a series of activities and tools implemented to ensure that a digital advertising campaign will not appear next to any content that is illegal (e.g. drug-related content) or dangerous (e.g. pornography or violence). According to Interactive Advertising Bureau general recommendations, it should be applied to every campaign to protect a brand’s reputation and not fund any illegal or dangerous content providers. In other words, Brand Safety mechanisms aim to protect the brand from negative associations.

The need for such protection is not a new phenomenon. In the times of the absolute domination of the printed press, it was crucial to ensure that the content presented on each page could not adversely affect mutual perception.

How is what is safe and what is not decided?

The entire advertising industry is working towards defining the measures of Brand Safety, through efforts from organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) or the Media Rating Council (MRC). Together with industry experts specializing in Brand Safety, such organizations not only working on the definitions but also the guidelines to make a clear structure that the industry can follow.

What is brand safety for the client and publisher? And what are the risks when it’s not there?

Today, brands have access to many types of mechanisms, providing different levels of security and effectiveness. Ineffective content analysis algorithms, based on which Brand Safety is executed, can have significant implications in terms of web reach which directly impacts the campaign’s scale. Therefore, technology is the key.

The sellers of advertising space (e.g. SSPs) provide the first level of security by blocking specific pages based on their content understanding mechanisms. This layer also includes mechanisms important for publishers. In some cases, brands that wish to advertise on a given website would adversely impact the perception of the publisher’s brand. In such a case, the publishers can also protect themselves.

The next layers are provided by advertising vendors, and these are only for advertisers. The best algorithms use Natural Language Processing to recognize unwanted words, phrases, sentences, contexts, or graphics. As we described in previous publications, it is possible to precisely understand the website’s content.

Imagine an airline banner offering discounted tickets. The lack of efficient technology to recognize and block unwanted content could result in displaying this type of advertising next to an article about a plane crash. Due to undoubtedly negative associations, it would harm the brand image and will not encourage users to take advantage of the offer.

What if an advertising inquiry and bid request comes from an anonymous or semi-transparent website? Here, too, technology comes to the rescue. Thanks to adequate Brand Safety settings, the requests from these impossible-to-verify sites can be automatically blocked.

Brand Safety post-cookies

Contextual user targeting, particularly useful for branding campaigns, will be nearly unchanged because the URL of the website visited by the user will still be passed along in the bid requests. Therefore, filtering, understanding, and possibly blocking undesirable sites will be at least as effective as before.

Contextual requests will also be used by advertising vendors’ technologies to learn about the characteristics of a particular advertising inventory. This information can be used for defining bidding strategies for particular interest groups in group-based targeting. In this case, Brand Safety logic will be stored within the bidding function on the user’s device.

As it is one of the most important topics for the industry, we are certain that the future solution will provide the possibility to effectively execute Brand Safety mechanisms, and if the currently proposed ones are not good enough, they will be improved upon in future iterations.