From Vulnerability to Vigilance: Navigating Brand Safety in 2023

Ensuring brand safety in the online ecosystem is becoming a growing concern for modern brands. A large chunk of marketers has started recognizing the threats against their brand’s safety. Misinformation, wrong messaging, bot traffic, and “algorithms” are just some of the many serious threats facing brands these days.

In a survey of over 600 leaders at top brands, agencies, and media buying companies, 40% expressed that they expect threats to their brand safety to grow in 2023. While that is an alarming number, the good news is that the awareness needed to push back against such threats is increasing.

As online fraudsters become more creative and innovative with the techniques, they use to commit fraud, advertisers are also becoming more cautious. If you are one such advertiser, this article is for you.

In the upcoming sections, we will discuss how advertisers and brands can prepare themselves to face and triumph over the ever-evolving brand safety issues in 2023.

Without wasting any time, let’s jump right in.

Why is Brand Safety Essential for Brands in 2023?

Brand safety is important to every single stakeholder involved in the advertising supply chain. Starting from the ad networks to the publishers, it is important to do their part in maintaining brand safety to ensure that their customers, the advertisers, continue trusting them with their ad budgets.

That said, there is no denying that brand safety incidents have the biggest impact on advertisers and brands. In worst cases, brands may experience permanent, irreparable damage to their brand reputation.

Paying attention to brand safety and protection isn’t just important from the point of view of preventing a negative impact on brand reputation. There are many positive benefits of actively pursuing and monitoring brand safety. Some of them are:

For a Positive Brand Image

Brand safety threats can take many forms. One of the most daunting ones includes instances where a brand’s ad is published on websites that host questionable or extremist content. Having a brand’s ad published on websites that engage in fraudulent activities can also cause significant damage to the brand’s reputation.

While most stakeholders are aware that in most cases, advertisers have little control over where their ads are displayed, the same isn’t true for modern consumers. They may be quick to think that the brand in question supports the views or activities found on the publishing website. This, if not monitored and avoided, can cause serious damage to any brand’s reputation.

This isn’t an imagined threat.

The world’s biggest brands have experienced such a threat to their brand image and have used their position to transfer some of the consequences to publishers like Google. Unfortunately, smaller brands don’t enjoy the same luxury and thus, they must proactively protect their brand’s reputation against such a threat.

To Make a Strong First Impression

Brand reputation incidents can hurt any brand. However, established brands have a history associated with them, along with a loyal audience. These elements can prove advantageous and contribute towards a quick recovery after a brand reputation incident.

However, upcoming brands don’t enjoy any such advantages. Even a single brand reputation-threatening instance can prove fatal for new brands trying to make a name for themselves. While that is the worst case, even in less extreme scenarios, emerging brands can expect their advertising costs to spike significantly after even a minor brand reputation incident.

This is because in order to recover from such an incident will involve rebuilding the brand’s reputation from scratch. This may prove to be an undertaking that may demand a higher-than-usual investment in terms of the advertising budget.

Key Considerations to Implement Brand Safety

Now that we have established the importance of ensuring brand safety, you may be wondering what you can do to ensure the same. Here are actionable steps you can take to ensure your brand’s reputation is not under threat:

1. Set brand safety guidelines

Defining brand safety best practices will enable you to understand actionable steps you must take (or avoid) in order to protect your brand’s reputation. To that end, you should consider defining guidelines that outline what ‘brand-safe’ content is, and what isn’t. You should also have clear guidelines outlining the kind of content that you never want to be associated with your brand.

Most advertisers try to avoid content that talks about military conflict, drugs, arms, crime, death, and hate speech. While these can act as a good starting point for defining unsafe content for your brand, remember that this list is not exhaustive. You may want to add or omit certain types of content based on your brand’s preferences and audience.

2. Create a list of blocklisted sites

Once you have identified what type of content you want to avoid, it is time to identify websites that are known to publish such content. This will be your own list of blocklisted websites. You can instruct publishers to never publish your content on any website in this list and ensure your brand does not appear next to questionable content.

To make sure that this exercise has a positive impact, it is important to understand that it isn’t a one-time undertaking. It is recommended that you revisit this list from time to time and update your list.

3. Collaborate with a Brand Protection Partner

Any smart advertiser can understand that as important as their list of blocked websites is, it can never be complete. There will always be questionable websites that you may not be aware of. However, just because you aren’t aware of such websites, it doesn’t mean that their potential to hurt your brand’s reputation is any less than others.

So how do you protect your brand against threats that you are not even aware of?

With the help of a brand protection partner like mFilterIt’s brand protection solution. Such a solution ensures that your brand protection infrastructure is bulletproof, with no missed instances.

Let’s find out how this is made possible.

How can mFilterIt help you protect your brand reputation?

As mentioned above, a brand protection solution like mFilterIt can ensure your brand reputation remains protected with no loopholes that fraudsters can exploit. This is done using the following methods:

1. Identifying the unsafe ad placements

This first step is verifying if your current ad placements can prove problematic. This means each placement is analyzed individually. We filter the content based on its relevancy, contextuality, and sentiments. Furthermore, if the placement matches all the GARM categories, we mark it “safe”.

2. Contextual and relevancy in ad placement

Our solution also boasts a contextual ad and relevant ad placement feature that ensures, in real time, that your ads are being displayed next to contextually relevant content. This doesn’t just ensure brand safety; it also ensures your ads deliver the maximum possible impact. Since the ads are appearing next to contextually relevant content, there is a higher likelihood that the website visitors will find your offer relevant.

3. Capabilities of AI/ML

mFilterIt also features AI and ML capabilities that ensure there are no loopholes in terms of online brand safety. These capabilities allow our solution to go beyond simple manual efforts to monitor ad placement. They ensure that your ads are consistently appearing next to relevant content and analyze each placement in real time to prevent any placements next to questionable content.

Conclusion

Brand safety concerns are growing but at the same time, modern advertisers’ ability to fend off threats to their brand’s reputation is also evolving. Smart advertisers must understand the importance of brand safety and the short and long-term impacts of brand safety incidents on their ad ROI and their brand’s ability to build a larger loyal customer base. The right brand safety tool can prove incredibly useful in this matter and help advertisers advertise confidently.

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