Brand Safety, Transparency Are Byproducts Of Publisher-Focused Ad Exchange

Brand safety soared to the top of the digital advertising agenda throughout 2017, with an end-of-year survey from the Association of National Advertisers revealing alm ost four-fifths (78%) of its members had concerns about brand safety issues in programmatic.



This year, instead of simply voicing their concerns, brands and media buyers are taking action to address brand safety issues, while still enjoying the many benefits programmatic brings in scale and efficiency.

By demanding increased transparency and promoting closer relationships throughout the programmatic supply chain, buyers are tackling brand safety issues head on. 

One tool is closer collaboration with publishers. This can help buyers combat brand safety concerns in three ways:

Issue resolution through open relationships

In the automated, mechanized world of digital advertising, people forget the art of working together. This includes the benefit of having face-to-face conversations and solving problems collaboratively. 

All too often, publishers are labelled as ‘bad’ or told media partnerships aren’t working, without any feedback into what the issues are or how they can improve. This leads to frustration on the publisher side, and results in buyers writing off a source of inventory that could perform well, given constructive feedback, which could help to resolve simple technical issues.

Ad exchanges will often have direct relationships with publishers, enabling buyers to cut out many of the middle men in the programmatic supply chain. As a result, they can enter into completely open relationships with sellers, which not only provides more transparency into where ads are placed, but also allows constant communication for mutually beneficial issue resolution via one contact rather than many.

Closer relationships between buyers and sellers, where both sides can pick up the phone to discuss problems and work together to solve them, creates a more open and transparent ecosystem. That promotes brand safety and helps to unlock quality inventory which may have been incorrectly flagged due to technical mis-matching.   

A curated ecosystem through publisher checks

By working with exchanges that are audited by independent industry associations, such as TAG, JICWEBS and the IAB Gold Standard, buyers can have confidence in the quality and suitability of the supply on offer.

To curate a clean, high-quality media ecosystem exchanges need to implement a rigorous vetting process, ensuring only domains with appropriate, brand safe content are included. Rather than a one-time check, this process should involve detailed audits and ongoing monitoring, using a combination of human review and intelligent technology to maintain the integrity of the network.

For example, continuous checks with a range of tools including Integral Ad Science (IAS), Pixalate and SimilarWeb can alert exchanges to any fluctuation in the quality of site content, trafc and engagement.

Brand safety and care through nuanced understanding

Much of the focus in brand safety discussions is keeping brand ads away from damaging content, including hate speech and extremist viewpoints, easier said than done. There are numerous grey areas, such as political views, where content that is considered politically extreme by one reader could be viewed as perfectly acceptable by another.

It is important to use advanced techniques, such as machine learning algorithms and semantic analysis, as well as human review, to pick up subtle, nuanced brand safety issues that might otherwise be overlooked. That includes hate speech, politically extreme viewpoints, and fake or spoof content.

This promotes a cleaner, healthier environment for brands, ensuring their ads don’t end up next to objectionable content. 

But in addition to brand safety, ad exchanges can also offer an additional layer of brand care. As well as keeping ads away from offensive content, brand care means exchanges also prevent ads being served in irrelevant environments, on pages that don’t quite align with brand values, or alongside ads for other products or services the brand wants to avoid.

Instead, they proactively ensure ads are placed in the environments most likely to drive audience engagement.     

By increasing partnerships between publishers and programmatic ad exchanges, the buy and sell sides will be better placed to resolve issues collaboratively and ensure a high-quality supply of inventory.

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