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What is Brand Safety and Brand Suitability?

Learn why it's important to protect your brand from unsafe, harmful, and inappropriate environments with brand safety and suitability in digital advertising.



What Is Brand Safety?

Brand safety is a set of measures that protects a brand from appearing in unsafe environments. It focuses on the need for marketers to prevent problematic or inappropriate brand associations. Traditionally, brand safety has involved rudimentary tactics such as keyword blocking and URL blacklisting to block inventory on pages.

What Is Brand Suitability?

Brand suitability is the evolution of brand safety—offering marketers more control and precision in the environments they block and the content they target for advertising. Where brand safety relies on broad blocking techniques, brand suitability uses unique brand profiles, market research insights, and strategic positioning to identify and target specific environments for advertising.

At its core, brand suitability is based on understanding the underlying meaning of content and the true context of what’s on the page. This involves analyzing content beyond URL strings and specific keywords to determine the relationship between terms and phrases, and the broader meaning they are conveying.

Why Brand Safety and Suitability Are Important

Brand safety has long been a critical component for online advertisers and publishers alike. Poor brand alignment negatively affects brand equity and can risk alienating, even losing, customers if it’s not managed effectively. For those reasons, brand safety will always serve an important role for advertisers and publishers.

However, more recently, there has been a wider industry shift to brand suitability, caused by the global events of 2020. As marketers seek more control and confidence in the solutions they deploy, it’s becoming clear that rudimentary brand safety tactics aren’t as effective as they once were.

Brand suitability helps you bridge the divide between risk and opportunity by providing rigorous context-based protections that allows you to target safe, appropriate, and brand-building inventory.

The evolution of brand safety and context in advertising

It’s critical in today’s climate that you have a solid brand suitability strategy to ensure you find positive environments to align your brand with while avoiding harmful content that you define. Blocklists and keywords aren’t enough for some brands. If you’re thinking about advancing your campaigns from safety to suitability, check out the infographic, which illustrates the tools you need to deploy both strategies in-market successfully.


Disneyland Paris Uses Contextual Intelligence to Help Families Find Fun

The Path to Brand Suitability

There are three stages on the path to brand suitability—each representing a new level of sophistication. Whether you’re a brand, agency, or publisher, you need to determine where you sit on the path to brand suitability, and if you have the necessary tools in place to successfully meet your goals.

1.  Legacy protection: The vast majority of advertisers are at this stage today, using domain- and keyword-level blacklisting and targeting to block inventory—which limits scale and reach, doesn’t provide adequate protection, and often blocks safe content.

2.  Baseline protection: You adopt a more proactive approach in your brand safety strategy at this stage, implementing pre-bid solutions to block specific content and inventory while also identifying and avoiding fraudulent impressions.

3.  Brand suitability: This is where you leverage the unique qualities and characteristics of your brand to develop and implement a customized approach to safety and suitability. You are able to accurately define and control your approach to targeting and avoidance, ensuring a balance of risk and opportunity.

Tackling the Broader Safety Issues

Today’s programmatic environment brings its own set of unique challenges that brands must overcome. Between avoiding harmful content, maintaining reach, delivering the right message, and providing relevant content at the opportune time, there is a broad spectrum of issues for the modern marketer to consider. In terms of brand safety, there is the growing need to adopt a whole new philosophy centered on suitability over safety, so it serves both advertisers and publishers alike. Brand suitability strategies are tailored to the changing online content cycle and aid in the funding of news by ensuring safe content isn’t blocked and publishers’ inventory can be monetized—preserving the health of the advertising, news, and media industries well into the future.

Webinar: Why Contextual Intelligence Is Your Answer to Finding Brand-Suitable Environments Right Now

  • Why the overall context—not a single word—matters
  • How to understand and evaluate digital content to identify brand-suitable environments
  • Why extensive keyword blacklisting is not the answer in the current climate

Guide: Move Your Brand From Cautious to Confident in a Programmatic Environment

  • Learn about the challenges and brand safety risks in programmatic environments
  • Understand how the standards of contextual brand safety can help brands avoid harmful content, maintain reach, and provide relevant content to your audience
  • Figure out how to better control media buys and execute campaigns with confidence