A Follow-up On Brand Safety

By FCB’s Programmatic Team 

In the wake of the Christchurch attacks, James Butcher wrote a piece on brand safety (found here). In it, one particular quote perfectly encapsulated the impact, and the way we can improve our industry, it is “not brand safety, but people safety”.

It still stands that change needs to occur at a global scale, and while Google and Facebook have shown encouraging signs of addressing these issues, change takes time. These changes will look to help improve things from a brand perspective, but also hopefully from a people safety perspective. Rather than wait for this to happen we need to be proactive to ensure the best for everyone.

There is no way to foresee anything like the Christchurch or Sri Lanka attacks so the challenge is to understand the capabilities to ensure we have precautions in place but still be reactive as specific events break. From a programmatic perspective, we have established a robust and dynamic brand safety approach for each of our clients that looks to safeguard against any situation.

This involves removing certain contextual content from our targeting, a comprehensive negative keyword list and site-based URL targeting/exclusions. We continually review and update these processes to give us the best brand safety protection. In addition to this, as an agency, we have partnered with Integral Ad Science (IAS) to have another way to measure and block any questionable content we run against; allowing us to apply general exclusions but also tailor this based on specific verticals and brands, as well as being reactive to events.

One of the more challenging placements to ensure brand safety in on YouTube, where more than 400 hours of content is loaded into YouTube every minute. To combat this, we have introduced a premium channel list for YouTube, containing the largest reach driving channels that offer professional quality video content and eliminating live content like video game streamers where content is unpredictable.

Brand safety is always a difficult topic to discuss, especially in light of recent events. There is never going to be a perfect solution, but we have put many steps and measurements in place to give us the best chance to ensure we are protecting brands, and doing so in collaboration with partners such as Google and Facebook to try and help protect people too.

Date: July 15, 2019