Brand safety has emerged in 2017 as a top priority for marketers dealing with large platforms of user generated content (UGC). The exodus of top-tier advertisers pulling their content from YouTube follows years of mounting complaints over the lack of data and performance transparency. In advertising, measurement is critical, and with some of the current issues, advertisers seem to have finally lost their patience. The veneer of walled gardens is beginning to crack — and concerns over brand safety are deepening those fissures.
Meanwhile, the rest of the “open” marketplace is still working to reverse its challenged reputation. Concerns over viewable inventory and non-human traffic have continued to cast a pall over the programmatic ecosystem beyond the walled gardens. Such concerns persist despite real and measurable gains in the fight against them; third-party viewability and verification are now an integral part of the ecosystem, but confidence has yet to fully gel.
Advertisers want brand safety at scale. Who’s going to answer that demand?
Premium Pubs to the Rescue?
Big premium publications are one answer. As major platforms lose their luster, and as the open market evolves slowly toward more transparency and accountability, the situation has become ripe for those premium publishers to reassert themselves. It makes sense that they would. To the lingering questions facing demand-side Platforms (DSPs) and large social platforms, premium publishers can answer with enduring brands, familiar audiences, and recognizable guard rails. Is it their moment to step into the void?
Yes and no. Publisher-direct inventory is indeed a viable option worth reconsidering, but it remains a limited answer to the question of brand safety at scale. It is only a plausible solution in developed markets, between the most qualified publications and powerful advertisers with the deepest pockets. Elsewhere in international markets, the landscape is more fragmented and the publisher brands carry less implicit weight. Premium publishers lack the penetration to offer true alternatives, and that’s before you add in the vagaries of language, culture, and purchasing power.
In an environment where advertisers are increasingly motivated by brand safety, transparency, and accountability, and in an environment where these concerns are balanced more equitably against their need for reach and scale — programmatic will continue its global rise and expansion through private marketplaces where data overlays go beyond demographic and psychographic targeting and segmentation and expand into brand safety, viewability and verification guarantees. When you don’t have a legacy brand to bestow the trust, technology needs to step into provide that trust in audience buying.
The World Needs a New Kind of PMP
Private marketplaces with data-driven viewability and verification overlays are where supply and demand can unite under that common imperative.
Private marketplace platforms (PMP) organized in this way would provide a key mechanism by which brands could scale programmatic buying in international markets with greater quality control. The key for these PMPs is to develop beyond inventory selection and data management to really deliver against the emergent KPIs that concern today’s modern marketer. Here I’m speaking of the possibility of audience buying with guaranteed viewability and verification filters overlaid as part of a PMP which would be set up via a DSP instead of via the publishers themselves. Such a PMP could help fill the void in those international markets which lack the presence of large scale premium publishers.
PMPs that center their value proposition more squarely on viewable inventory, human traffic, and brand safety provide the means to address the evolving needs of a newly-empowered buy side demanding transparency.