brand reputation


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,

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Advertise Fearlessly: Best Practices for Brand Safety in the Digital Ecosystem

The CNN-Applebee controversy that happened in February 2022 brought a serious problem faced by digital advertisers to light. The TV news channel ran a “squeeze back” ad for Applebee’s, which was displayed right next to their coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This attracted a lot of backlash from the public. The problem of advertising adjacency issues is even more serious in the digital world. While TV advertisers know exactly what content will be shown along with their ads, this isn’t true for most online advertisers. While the Applebee incident might have been the result of oversight, the truth is that with TV ads, advertisers have the freedom to make decisions in the interest of their brand safety best practices. Brands using programmatic advertising have little to no control over where their ad is published. Even in the cases where the brand can exercise control over who publishes their ads, vetting individual publishers can prove to be a complex and time-consuming task. A Times UK article sheds more light on this issue by naming several well-known brands whose ads are being displayed on extremist websites publishing violent and political views. Brands need to start thinking about this emerging threat and update their brand protection protocols to avoid it, and this starts with awareness. Brand Safety Risks The risks to brands’ reputations are not just limited to extremist websites. In this section, we will explore the biggest threats to brand reputation. Let’s get started: 1. M algorithms “Malgorithms” is the term used to describe instances where there is a contextual misalignment between the content of a page and the ad being displayed on it. Here’s an example of the same: The advertisement for the Hollywood film “2012” was displayed right on top of a news story about the devastating Chile earthquake. While some viewers may find this particular example funny, there are much darker ones that may lead to damage to the advertising brand’s reputation. 2. Fake News Fake news is a problem that plagues multiple areas of our lives. For marketers, this problem also poses threats to their brand’s online reputation. Consumers say that they will outright stop purchasing from brands that have ads appearing on websites peddling fake news. In a 2021 survey, respondents from the UK said they would boycott their favorite brands if their ads appeared on websites publishing COVID-19 conspiracy theories. This is primarily because the advertising budgets allocated to publishing on these websites are what keep them alive and kicking. Even if a brand is not aware that its ad is being displayed on a fake news website, the harm to its reputation is going to be very real. 3. Extremist Sites We have already briefly discussed an example of advertisements appearing on extremist websites. This problem is quite prevalent, with ads of some of the biggest brands on the planet appearing on websites discussing extremist religious, sexist, racist, and fundamentalist views. The problem with this is quite similar to the problem with fake news websites. A portion of the ad budget is paid to these publishers, which enables them to continue peddling their hurtful views on the web. Consumers have made this connection and are actively voicing their concerns against brands whose ads appear next to extremist content. 4. Unsafe YouTube Ad Placements These problems are not just limited to third-party websites that work with advertising networks such as Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange. Some brands have faced serious backlash because their ads have appeared on extremist YouTube videos. Here’s an example: Nissan’s ad is being played right before a video discussing racist views. Well-known brands like Netflix, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Amazon, and Adidas (among many others) have had their ads appear on videos published by extremist channels on YouTube. Such instances pose a serious threat to the online brand protection efforts of these brands. Best Brand Safety Practices to Incorporate Thankfully, brands that depend on digital advertising aren’t completely helpless. There are a number of brand safety best practices that you can employ to protect the reputation of your brand: 1. Define safety standards for your brand This is the most basic yet important step that any organization can take in this matter. Brands must have safety standards that clearly define the following: A list of ad publishers that are to be avoided What content is off-limits for ads, and How these websites and content pieces should be vetted and avoided For instance, you can decide to advertise exclusively with publishers that are transparent about their inventory and publish GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) compliant content. 2. Get A Transparent Overview The advertisers must be aware of where their ads are served and where the ad spends are invested in the ad supply. This will help the advertisers optimize their campaigns better and ensure their ads are not vulnerable to fraud. 3. Hire A Trustworthy Programmatic Platform The programmatic ad platform you use has perhaps the biggest influence on where your ad will end up. That’s why it is important to work with highly reputable publisher partners. The single most important quality to look for in a trustworthy programmatic publisher is transparency. Make sure you work with programmatic publishers that offer unrestricted access to their inventory, so you can see where your ad may end up and make an informed decision. 4. Run Ads On A Premium Inventory Many brands avoid premium inventory and stick to blind bidding, citing budget constraints. While access to a premium inventory may be a little expensive, it is a small price to pay to protect the online reputation of your brand. 5. Go Beyond Keyword-Blocking Keyword blocking is widely considered an effective way to avoid questionable publishers. However, the generic nature of this strategy deprives brands of access to many premium websites that publish great, contextually relevant content. 6. Rely on Context Than Content Instead of relying on crude methods like keyword blocking, brands pay attention to the context of the content on websites where their ads may be displayed. Contextual targeting doesn’t

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BRAND SENTIMENT: Do You Know Who Is Saying What, Where & Why?

Listen To Everything Said About Brands and Products Across social media eCom Platform “Kuch toh log kahege, logo ka kaam hai kehna!” (People will always have opinions, this is what they do) but the voice of an eCom shopper cannot be left unheard or dismissed as useless chatter. Opinions and experiences of shoppers matter when it comes to the digital commerce ecosystem. Brands must be aware of every single word said about them be it customer reviews, shoppers queries, lashing-out tweets, gentle words of appreciation, or simple suggestions.  Every sentiment needs to be monitored and analyzed as it deeply affects brand reputation. But why? The answer to this why” is a little complicated but here we are going to simplify the brand sentiment what it means and its impact on the brand. Building brand reputation is a continuous extensive process that comprises multiple factors. Brand messaging is one such factor that drives brand sentiment. So, Let’s dig deeper and find out why it matters so much. According to a survey, 76% of customers claim they would quit a business that fails to respond to a negative social media post while 82% of customers expect brands to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Brands must be aware of every kind of sentiment about their products and brands. Evaluating Brand sentiment is critical for brand health and the reputation of the business. Let’s presume a case where a customer got a wrong color item or some part or accessory is missing, leaves a negative review, marks for return or replacement along with venting out on social media.  Just imagine what an unresolved tweet can do to a brand’s reputation. This makes social listening and quick follow-up critical to brand reputation. The digital commerce landscape is cut-throat and competitive It’s not just about social media conversation and customer sentiment about brands but even cross-platform conversation also needs to be monitored. Brand sentiment also covers understanding and analyzing what people feel about their interactions. Brands must carefully monitor this dynamic and enhance those aspects that leave a positive impact and enhance customer experience! How people feel about your business or product can have a huge impact on product sales, brand loyalty, and customer retention. Lend Your Ears Are You Listening? The most powerful element in building a brand reputation is word of mouth the experience leads to voices, and voices turn into opinions. These opinions shape the buzz about the brand. For example, let’s consider the case of TATA Nano, a pocket-friendly car with a budget of the middle class that faced a major bump in the market as it got labeled as a cheap car. It is important to ensure what the brand wants to convey about the product matches the target audience’s interpretation. Brands need to pay attention to what people are saying. Being aware of how the brands are responding is crucial to product performance in the market. Brands need to stay alert in real time to track sentiments across the digital ecosystem. This includes understanding. Context and tone of sentiment Subjectivity of sentiment Change in sentiment over time Source of sentiment Understanding sentiments will help brands categorize sentiments and grade them accordingly. Brands need to keep track of word-of-mouth mentions and respond accordingly. Perks Of Tracking Brand Sentiments Tracking brand sentiment is like social listening crisis management under one roof. According to a survey, 88% of people look for opinions online before making a purchase. Finding your brand mentions and making your presence felt is an important step toward upswinging brand digital efficiency. Turn the insights into action by monitoring and analyzing brand sentiments across the digital ecosystem. Here are some core benefits of being aware of brand sentiments: Improved Customer Satisfaction Respond swiftly to Customer feedback Ensure customer retention making customer opinion/experience feel valued Understand the target customer and what makes customers happy Understand your industry segment Identify threats or opportunities Improve marketing strategies Data Driven decision making What Brands Should Do To Improve Brand Sentiment? The reputation built by positive words about the brand or product is what propels sales and helps acquire new customers most organically. The way brand sentiment shapes up decides the fate of the product. The challenge lies in identifying sentiments and responding to them swiftly as the more time negative feedback is spent in the digital landscape the more damage it does to brand reputation. So, what can the brands do about it? Relentless Monitoring The digital space keeps on evolving at a rapid pace. The monitoring and analysis process should be relentless and continuous to keep up it. A comprehensive system should be in place for automated sentiment monitoring with actionable insights to support data-driven decisions. Swift Response Make sure customers feel valued. Personalized responses to negative feedback will go a long way in building brand trust and loyalty. This will help the brand handle the problem before it turns into a crisis. Make strategies more adaptable The strategies that can turn a crisis into opportunities. Understand customer sentiment and respond accordingly. Never miss a conversation about your brand monitor Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, News, Blogs, and the entire world wide Web including the eCommerce marketplace customer feedback reviews and QAs. Track every social channel Join conversations about your brand Keep an eye on the competition Manage your reputation online Final Thoughts Be Sensitive to Sentiments ‘Whats in a name? In the digital commerce landscape everything. As any mention of brand or product name matters. Brand sentiment plays a pivotal role in building brand reputation and value across the digital ecosystem and beyond. Social Listening, digital commerce intelligence with sentiment analysis, and optimizing customer experience are the core digital efficiencies that every brand should strive for in the digital landscape. Omnichannel Shopping including Live Social commerce and expanding geographical outreach of digital commerce retail is opening up new avenues for shoppers. Now shopping has become more interactive where shoppers can directly engage with the sellers or brands. Knowing

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Challenges In Programmatic Advertising: Know How You Can Combat Them

Programmatic has brought a revolutionary change in digital advertising. With its complete automation process, it has made it easier for advertisers to get the best place for their ads. However, every change comes with its own set of challenges. It is a challenging decision for an advertiser to make a move toward the big and promising world of real-time bidding advertising. All the things are shiny, but certainly, some red flags can be avoided to get the best returns on the ad spends. Programmatic advertising has portrayed itself as the best solution to traditional advertising. However, some challenges make it hard for advertisers to trust the ad-tech ecosystem blindly. We’re here to spill the beans on how these challenges are directly impacting your ad campaigns and what you can do to protect them. Read along and ensure that your brand doesn’t have to be the victim of fraudulent practices and other limitations of programmatic ads in the future. Programmatic Advertising – Challenges & Solutions 1. Lack of Transparency Due to programmatic advertising, many publishers have emerged that attract a large audience. Though the ideal goal of an advertiser is to reach a wider audience, these publishers cause a major concern for brand safety. These sites are usually low-quality and spam sites which redirect irrelevant traffic to the campaigns and impact the brand reputation. In addition to this, lack of transparency in the programmatic also impacts the decision of ad budget allocation for an advertiser. As they are unaware of the real impact of the ad campaigns and where their ads are showing, they are unable to decide which campaigns are genuinely performing better. Solution To solve this problem, mFilterIt’s ad fraud solution ensures that your ad campaign doesn’t consist of fraudulent and invalid traffic. We detect the sources of the malicious traffic and blacklist the fraudulent IP addresses to prevent the impact on future ad campaigns. 2. Viewability Issues As defined by the International Advertising Bureau, ad viewability is a standard metric to measure viewable impressions. According to them, an ad is considered viewable when it appears at least 50% on screen for more than one second. This is a quantifiable metric to know the percentage of ads that are viewed by real people. However, in programmatic advertising, many factors impact the viewability of an ad. Some of the factors are audience targeting, platform choices, and context which determines that the ads are shown to the right audience in real time and place. Solution Our Ad fraud software ensures that your digital ads are viewable to the targeted audience. Our solution also detects the ad placements on brand unsafe placements, masked websites, and sets of devices used for ad impressions. 3. Advertising Fraud & Bot Traffic According to a stat, “37% of ad buyers are worried about ad fraud”. And it has become a serious cause of concern in programmatic advertising. In the programmatic ecosystem, the landscape is littered with abusive vendors, non-human traffic sources, and click bots. And it’s an escalating problem because if you are basing your Return on Investment (ROI) on soft KPIs like impressions or views, then it is quite easy to fake fraudsters. In 2021, the traffic coming from bad bots accounted for 27.7% according to Statista. If taken the right measures to detect and prevent ad fraud, advertisers can get access to more accurate data and get a greater return on their ad spends. Solution To ensure that your ad campaigns are not impacted by fraudulent traffic and other ad fraud techniques, partner with an ad fraud detection tool provider like mFilterIt. Our fraud prevention and detection  ensures to detect bot patterns and other fraud categories in your ad traffic and takes preventive actions to provide cleaner traffic. 4. Impact on Brand Safety  Beyond the viewability issues and ad inventory problems, one of the biggest challenges with programmatic advertising is its impact on brand reputation. Beyond the revenue, if a brand’s reputation comes at stake, it can create havoc and ruin its image in front of its consumers. Apart from checking the quality of your traffic, a brand needs to ensure some additional things like: Where are your ads placed? What is the tone of your ad content? Is your content promoting anything illegal, scam, or fake? These checks are necessary to ensure that your ad doesn’t hurt the sentiments of your consumers and place you as a brand involved in illegal acts. Solution Keep a check on the placement of your ads and ensure that they are not showing on websites promoting violence, pornography, terrorism, fake news or hate speech. Conclusion Every revolutionary idea has its share of pros and cons. While Programmatic advertising comes with the above-mentioned challenges, it also comes with a plethora of benefits that can make a difference in the digital advertising space. To enjoy the best of both worlds, advertisers can take small steps to protect their ad campaigns and brand reputation. And while they do their part, an ad fraud prevention and detection solution provider like mFilterIt can help in making programmatic advertising a fraud-free space for your digital ad campaigns. By eliminating ad fraud in the programmatic space, advertisers can leverage the benefits of reaching the right audience and getting better returns on digital ad campaigns. Get in touch to learn more about programmatic advertising.

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