You've Heard About Brand Safety, But What About Content Safety?

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 27, 2017

Some advertisers who hadn’t thought about brand safety much recently got a rude awakening this year as the press found several cases of advertisements running before outright offensive Z-list YouTube content.

While most companies are now reassessing their programmatic buys to take steps to limit such exposure, there’s another more insidious problem emerging: content safety. Brands are spending big money to create their own content, but the volume of content they’re expected to churn out is causing them to cut corners. As a result, some of it is off-brand, poorly executed or distributed in a way that cheapens the brand.

Such brands need to take a step back, rethink their content strategy and take safeguards to ensure that they limit their exposure to content safety as well. 

Why it happens

The 24/7 nature of social media has made it imperative that brands have a steady stream of content to promote and discuss on those platforms. And brands are rising to the occasion.



For instance, the top 100 brands (as rated by Interbrand) collectively upload a new video every 18.5 minutes. The range of such content varies widely. GE has created a podcast that zoomed to No. 1 on iTunes. Red Bull has orchestrated live events that draw millions of viewers.

But the vast majority of brand-created content isn’t so memorable. Some 60% of brand-created content is “just clutter” and has little impact on consumers’ lives, according to a recent study.

Mediocre content isn’t unsafe the way offensive YouTube videos are, but it has the same effect of dragging down your brand.

The remedy: 3 best practices

Here’s the quick and effective guide for creating branded content that’s on-brand, is of high quality and will act as “pull marketing” the way content is supposed to:

1. Start with your content architecture. A good architecture aligns your brand pillars and personality with a predefined set of content topics and themes that are the output of your content strategy. This ensures that all content creation partners  are aligned and that content will be on brand and lead to an ecosystem by design and not default.

2. Slow down. We all feel the pressure to keep up with social media, but most content marketing mistakes tend to happen when brands do it too quickly. Take a more measured pace and make sure that every post has multiple sets of eyes on it.

3. Be mindful about distribution. Even high-quality content can look cheap when it’s distributed via those bottom-of-the-page “around the web” roundups that also include fake news and clickbait about aging Hollywood stars. 

What’s next?

Being content-safe may be just as hard being brand-safe. The culprit is the same though: At some point, the brand loses control of its communications, which is why content-safety needs to be a top priority. 

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