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Oracle Contextual Intelligence

Brand safety solution that drives better digital advertising campaign outcomes and protects your budget.

What Is Brand Safety and Brand Suitability in Digital Advertising?

What is brand safety?

Brand safety is the practice of protecting a brand’s reputation and keeping it from appearing in unsafe environments. Its focus is to align your brand with other positive, authoritative, and non-confrontational brands. To prevent problematic or inappropriate brand associations brand safety has historically involved rudimentary tactics such as keyword blocking and URL blocklisting.

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. Whereas 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.

Brand suitability is based on understanding the underlying meaning of content and the true context of what’s on the page. It involves analyzing content beyond URL strings and specific keywords to determine the relationship between terms and phrases and their broader meaning.

Why brand safety and brand suitability are important

Brand safety measures have been a focus for digital advertisers, agencies, and publishers. Poor brand alignment risks alienating and losing customers. Therefore, brand safety will always serve an essential role for advertisers and publishers.

Recently, there has been an industry shift to brand suitability thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 bridge the gap between risk and opportunity by providing rigorous context-based protections that allow digital advertisers to target safe, appropriate, and brand-building inventory.

Brand alignment

The practice of ensuring that all customer-facing marketing and advertising assets uphold your brand promise by communicating one cohesive, ongoing story. Your brand aligns when the customer experience (CX) you offer matches your customers’ expectations.

Why brand safety is getting harder

Brand safety is about preventing the loss of trust between a brand and a customer. Without trust, revenue, brand equity, and customer perceptions are lowered (or non-existent). A transparent digital advertiser brand safety vendor relationship is the key to success here. Advertisers need to know that the brand safety strategy employed for their digital advertising efforts moves at the speed of culture and can absorb new topics as they arrive but doesn’t over-block content or let unsafe/inappropriate content through.

Keyword blocking and domain-level allow- and blocklisting often leave these types of holes. Many keywords have multiple meanings, and URL domains can host content across a wide range of subject matter. Both tactics fall short of providing advertisers with adequate protection at scale. Therefore, a transparent relationship should exist between the brand safety vendor and the advertiser. Given that programmatic advertising removes direct control of the media buy, brands must have confidence in their chosen partners. Therefore, the relationship between the brand, agency, publishers, and technology vendors should be transparent and based on evidence-based decisions.

Programmatic advertising

The process of automatically buying and selling digital/online advertising space through the use algorithmic software.

Brand safety measures during COVID

Coronavirus has created new challenges for brand safety, dominating the content consumption and creation cycle.

Integrity—in terms of content, ecommerce, bandwidth, and partners—became a singular focus. Surfacing authoritative and relevant content and providing it key placement, blocking fraudulent sellers, driving reach, and working with partners who guarantee safety are recent areas of focus.

Many advertisers and agencies have concluded that one-dimensional keywords and blanket blocks are not sustainable strategies anymore.

The evolution of brand safety and context in advertising

The evolution of brand safety and context in advertising

Today it’s critical to move beyond brand safety. You should have a solid brand suitability strategy to ensure you find positive environments for your brand to align with and to avoid harmful content—however you define it. Blocklists and keywords aren’t enough for some brands. If you’re thinking about advancing your digital advertising campaigns from safety to suitability, check out this business brief, which illustrates how brand safety technology can help get both strategies deployed in-market successfully.

Context and brand safety today

Many brand safety pitfalls and missteps can be attributed to tactics that aren’t adapted for today’s content and news cycles. Context—understanding the true meaning of a page and accounting for nuances in language and interpretation—matters. Widely used brand safety tactics, such as keyword and URL blocking, don’t support the interpretation of nuances. This conundrum often pits brand safety against scale, when in reality, the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

But it is not just about conundrums and challenges. Research suggests advertisers are reluctant to move away from what they know best. We all get comfortable with what we know. Even with the advanced technology and solutions that allow for full-page contextual analysis, the rudimentary tactics of keyword blocking persist. Why? Well, in addition to comfort levels, it’s likely that the majority of digital advertisers aren’t aware of what a better alternative could look like, how new tactics and solutions work, and, ultimately, how easy it would be to benefit from them.

At a high level, context benefits brands and advertisers in terms of safety and scale. Modern contextual technologies maximize the impact of every dollar spent, yield a higher volume of brand conversions, and boost customer acquisition. Contextual intelligence assures immediacy, relevance, brand safety, and insights and can increase reach while preserving targeting.

What are the different types of brand suitability strategies?

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

1. Legacy protection

  • The vast majority of advertisers find themselves here today, using domain- and keyword-level blocklisting and targeting to block inventory. If you are here, scalability is an issue; your level of protection is not adequate; and safe, relevant content is often blocked.

2. Baseline protection

  • You are adopting a more proactive approach at this level, implementing pre-bid solutions to block specific content and inventory while also identifying and avoiding fraudulent impressions.

3. Brand suitability

  • At this stage, you are leveraging your brand’s unique qualities and characteristics to develop and implement a customized approach to safety and suitability. You can accurately define and control your approach to targeting and avoidance, ensuring a balance of risk and reward.