‘Tis the Season for Brand Safety


Think of this as the “season before the season.” Before the holiday shopping season comes the period of holiday sales hype, which appears to be our current state as digital advertisers. The first projections started to appear last week, and they look promising. So if you’re a family-driven online brand, this is your year to conduct an aggressive digital campaign and win over this bounty of shoppers looking for digital influence.

Traditionally, a high-activity targeting campaign always involves some sort of targeting and buying engine. These providers have evolved from manual approaches to automated platforms, which can have their challenges. If the platform is not adjusted effectively, your family-driven brand may find itself on an unfriendly site that may result in your brand’s reputation falling off the “nice list.” Because of these risks, some brands still steer clear of automated online advertising and continue with the traditional approach of hand-selecting the publishers they believe will reach their key demographics.

The Internet can be a frightening place for brands, but fear shouldn’t stop advertisers from exploring the full array of online possibilities to reach new and undiscovered audiences. In this unknown environment, there are a few steps that brands can take in order to protect their online reputation and reap the benefits of automation:

  1. Protect Yourself From Negative Placements. A logical first step in preparing your online brand is to protect against blatantly inappropriate placements – and there are very effective systems and methods of ensuring this type of sophisticated analysis and protection.
  2. Recognize Red Flags. Keep your eyes open in order to recognize other discrepancies when it comes to online brand safety. In this context, it’s necessary to look more broadly than contextual safety and consider brand reputation.
  3. Look at the Context. There’s more to brand reputation than protecting against the lewd and obscene; it’s also about having your brand appear in bad taste. Many automation engines will evaluate a placement based on a particular news outlet and/or demographic, but not take contextual information into account. As a result, while the NYTimes.com might appeal to your audience, an ad for a squirt gun will look more distasteful when it’s paired with an article on the war in Afghanistan.
  4. Steer Clear of Poor Retargeting. Poor brand reputation also comes with poor and un-insightful retargeting. If you run the same ad over and over again, to the same consumer repeatedly, showing the consumer a product or service they are not interested in is as equally damaging as a poor outlet choice, or poor timing of a particular article.

Companies need to explore options that have a sophisticated way of curating and evaluating numerous sources of information: time, place, behavior and demoographics, among many others. After a brand has a full picture of its current online activity, it’s important to go on the offensive to find new audiences and targets.

At the end of the day, brands should be thinking of brand safety as an exciting holiday trip. It’s important to experience new places, but it’s always a good idea to do your research and refer to a trusted partner. Brands that have a full picture of brand safety and potential pitfalls can integrate their online approach, in order to ensure your image is upheld and safe, especially during family-friendly shopping seasons.


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