Four Questions Marketers Need to Ask When it Comes to Brand Safety and Video

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by Daniel Oakins, Global Director of Publishing, Grapeshot

Video is everywhere and is continuing to grow in popularity over text as the preferred way that people consume media. Facebook recently announced a push into video with their latest Watch hub to share content, and Apple with their latest iPhone just increased the size of their screen to enhance how we view it.

As any new form of media consumption grows, we as marketers must prepare in advance how we wish to represent our brands to the world. Brand safety has indeed been the major theme in 2017 for marketers, going back to January when Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard set the industry ablaze by urging the rest of the ad industry to follow his company’s lead in improving industry-standard viewability metrics, fraud protection, and third-party verification. Since then, we’ve seen a more concerted effort by marketers to improve all facets of their campaigns.

In May of this year, we entered into a partnership with VICE Media to help them deliver a truly global brand safety proposition, detecting 16 different languages to offer unrivaled brand safety capabilities in all territories and in all languages VICE publishes in.

Other platforms are also working to solve the issues brand safety. YouTube parent Google said it will work with companies that are accredited by the ad industry’s Media Ratings Council for new verification tools, but didn’t provide an exact timeline for when those tools would be available. Facebook also recently announced that it will apply new standards to the type of content that can be monetized around in-stream ads and its Instant Articles feature.

The mechanisms are indeed in place when it comes to ensuring a brand’s safety factor online for textual content. However, the next domino to fall for brand safety is the video landscape. Unlike text, it is harder to unpack the context in videos. We as humans can understand things like facial expression, a tone of voice and body language, but it is tremendously difficult to teach machines how to interpret these nuances that we take for granted. Yet for brands, who need consistency in their message across video and text platforms, must find a solution.

For publishers like VICE, who receives significant interest from brands trying to get their branding in front of their audience but also want to make sure that their branding isn’t placed next to any malicious content, the scenario speaks to the challenge in needing to keep the brand’s values in mind and to try to place them in brand-safe environments – a fine line, no doubt.

So with respect to video, here are some key questions that marketers should ask when it comes to applying brand safety measures to the video world:

Question #1: What are some of the universal concerns around video advertising that a marketer needs to know? Is it performance, brand safety, or metrics?
The most exciting thing about video advertising is that it marries the high level brand building potential of linear TV with the instant feedback of metrics and analyses that digital display ads offer.

As targetable video inventory is basically the most valuable and sought after advertising format, so it becomes critical that monitoring performance, brand safety, and fraud remain paramount. Fraud really stings in video because of the high price of the ads, and video content serves as a far more visceral medium for contextual safety. Stay alert and work with the trusted third-party technology partners that are building solutions and tools for this space.

Question #2: What level of transparency can content producers provide about the videos a marketer is buying ads against?
Not nearly the level that marketers should be demanding. Today the deployment of technology for transparency inside video content is still very nascent but leading producers and distributors of video content can start to give access to exciting video insights like scene contextual markers, overall brand safety, music, image relevancy, brand collision, and more. These types of data can be extracted from video media and applied to metadata for standardize targeting, unlike subjective human tagged based metadata.

Question #3: Outside of Youtube, are there scalable methods for targeting video advertising on the open web?
DSPs and video centric DSPs are getting access to more and more inventory across digital video, OTT, Programmatic TV, and outstream meaning there’s more ad opportunities in video now than ever. It’s only going to grow as more linear TV become actionable from these buying platforms. These open web opportunities should give Facebook and Youtube some competition in the next 24 months. It makes sense for marketers to start experimenting and testing these programmatic video environments now so they have the experience and know-how of buying when this becomes the standard.

Question #4: How can I guarantee brand safety in video and how do I know who to trust?
Trust third parties that are industry recognized. Video presents some amazing technical challenges but there are some exciting solutions to these problems that bring together multi-language audio extraction and computer vision to give a full understanding of video content. For what it’s worth, Grapeshot is working across the video spectrum; with video creators & publishers, ad tech companies, and brands within programmatic platforms to provide video context at each and every step of the video buying journey.

While we and many others work to crack the code on brand safety in different formats – text, video, audio – brands and marketers must continue to be proactive to ensure the safest environment for everyone involved.

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Daniel Oakins is Global Director of Publishing at Grapeshot, the London, New York, and Singapore-based WordRank™ technology company. Daniel leads all publisher technology operations and is responsible for strategic publisher partnerships and the growth of the business.
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