Brand Safety Tips For 'Wild West' Of Multiplatform, Internet-Distributed T/V

MediaPost’s Wayne Friedman quantifies the early shifting of budgets to online video in his recent article on this year’s decline in cable as well as broadcast upfront ad spending. Online video accounts for approximately 7% of the total T/V nut ($5 billion of $70 billion total) and is poised for multiple-digit annual growth. So if television dollars are moving to Internet distribution and portable platforms, how will brand safety be maintained while ads potentially land everywhere and anywhere a viewer can find content?

One of the reasons the majority of T/V ad spending still goes to traditional broadcast and cable networks is that they are closed systems where the range of programming environment is finite, and are often organized around neat environment labels (Travel, Food, Women’s). Networks also give planners and buyers more control through direct deals with only known entities within the traditional television space, rather than having to deal with the infinite number of Internet sites out there. These are brand safety issues.

The term “brand safety” can conjure up fears that an ad buy will end up on porn or scam sites. While brand safety strategies address those extreme situations, the concept more importantly includes ensuring that the ad is seen, that it is seen in environments that the buyer approves, that it will not be placed on sites outside of that “white list,” and that sellers stay open to third-party verification.

We are seeing more and more frequent use of the phrase “premium” by sellers and buyers to identify the sub-sector of T/V online and mobile advertising defined by known, high-quality sites and apps that will support a positive and quality brand positioning. But it takes more than slapping the word “premium” on a content site to insure brand safety.

So here are some tips for planners, buyers and publishers that can help ensure brand safety as budgets continue to move to non-traditional, non-linear T/V:

Insist upon transparency: Ensure that there is enough budget and inventory purchased through direct buys and private exchange buys where the site list is known to the buyer.

Use Media Rating Council (MRC) accredited publishers and DSPs (demand-side platforms): This will assure minimum video viewability standards. An ad not seen is an ad that shouldn’t be paid for -- if it is, that is not brand safety.

Use third-party verification services: Spot check campaigns or flights purchased through DSPs and directly with publishers via third-party audit verification.

Don’t avoid programmatic buying: Find DSPs that guarantee transparency of sites, even for “white list” or “walled garden” buys. Use private exchanges rather than blind, open programmatic marketplaces designed to drive CPMs down.

Consider CPCV (cost per completed view) metrics: CPMs don’t need to be based on minimum viewability; now maximum viewability buys are available. Paying premiums to buy ads that have been fully seen by site audiences renders all partly completed ads as gravy. There are no such minimum or maximum viewability assurances with traditional television.

Don’t focus only on CPMs: It takes a lot of resources to produce premium content 365 days a year, and advertisers need to be willing to pay higher rates for advertising that meets brand safety guidelines. I believe publishers needn’t fear the increase in video inventory will diminish their revenue, if they are willing to bring integrity, transparency and brand safety to advertisers.

Stay interested in contextual targeting: As the technology gets stronger, seek ways to use contextual targeting to avoid having negative placements (automotive ads on article pages about car crashes) and to seek out environments where the brand is fully supported (automotive ads on article pages about the value of car ownership).

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4 comments about "Brand Safety Tips For 'Wild West' Of Multiplatform, Internet-Distributed T/V".
  1. James Nail from Forrester Research , July 23, 2014 at 3:01 p.m.
    "There are no such minimum or maximum viewability assurances with traditional television." Incorrect. If something glitches in the ad delivery and you have a broadcast verification service that catches it, you can demand a make-good.
  2. John Osborn from TV-The Next Generation , July 23, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.
    Thanks James. What I meant was there is no sense of whether a viewer is even in the room when passive linear television is running an advertisement at a certain time, or that if VCR'd that the ad was seen for the minimum or maximum time within the pod that many or even most viewers are zipping through. With instream or outstream video online or on mobile, at least there is a record that a user-initiated click or scrolling action initiated a video start that can me measured against minimum or completed viewing.
  3. John Grono from GAP Research , July 23, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
    John you make valid points - though they also apply in non-linear online viewing. If TV viewing (here in Australia) is time-shifted AND THE AD IS SKIPPED those minutes do NOT count to the viewing during the ad-break. In essence if you have a 60-minute block which is 45 minutes of content and 15 minutes of ads, and the person playing back skips all ads, then only the 45 minutes of ads count. We also have the (not often used) capability of determining when within the 7-day playback window that the content was played back which can be used in cost negotiations with the broadcaster (e.g. the sale ends Sunday .. any playback after Sunday doesn't count). Ironically, if you dig deep enough through panel studies you will find that the "away from keyboard" time with streamed video (or indeed browser not in focus) is generally larger than the "not in the room" time for TV.
  4. John Grono from GAP Research , July 23, 2014 at 8:17 p.m.
    Oops .. that should have read ... "only the 45 minutes of content count".