How can your Brand increase its presence on user-generated content platforms while protecting its reputation? Given the enormous volume of content that is cycled through on platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Meta it is nearly impossible to manage what content should be eligible for your ads to run alongside it. In other words, how do you optimize for brand suitable advertising? In this talk, ZEFR Product Lead Bharat Manglani will discuss how third-party targeting and measurement platforms can enhance your advertising technology stack while protecting your Brand from advertising next to unsuitable content.

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On brand safety and brand suitability

“First, we’re going to talk a little bit about brand safety and brand suitability. Two different terms out there in the ad tech world. And it sounds very similar, but there are some differences between the two. 

“First, brand safety measures. It describes the measures a company takes to protect its brand and minimize potential risks of brand reputation when advertising online. A couple examples would be protection from cyber criminals who maybe will implant malware into your ads. As viewers are viewing your ads, they might inadvertently get malware downloaded onto their computers. And then all of a sudden your brand is thought about as someone that’s promoting malware. That can involve legal risks. So that’s something to be avoided. 

“With brand safety, also, brands ads appearing alongside inappropriate content – content that’s illegal, for example. That can be viewed as an unintentional endorsement of that kind of content. 

“Brand suitability builds on the concept of brand safety. It focuses more on ensuring ads are placed on pages and your content that’s appropriate and suitable for the brand. And that ultimately would lead to a more positive end user experience as they’re viewing your ad. And if done right, you can actually also get contextually relevant ads. Maybe someone is watching a video about running. They’re an enthusiast, training for a marathon. When you show an advertisement for a brand that is promoting running shoes, you’re now showing a very relevant ad to someone who could be thinking about products in that realm. And potentially you could show that ad when they’re most interested in that topic and more inclined to make a purchase, at that moment.”

On assessing levels of risk for brands

“The GARM Initiative, or the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, developed a safety and suitability framework. GARM was a cross-industry initiative established by the World Federation of Advertisers to address the challenge of harmful content on digital media platforms, and its monetization via advertising. It spans things like adults and explicit sexual content to online piracy to illegal drugs. All of these things that could have negative connotations if your brand’s ad was seen against them. 

“There are nuanced levels from green to red, the red being safety floor. So that is content that absolutely should not be on the platform to begin with. It should be taken off the platform should be excluded from brands advertising against them. For example, content on how to use illegal firearms. It’s not something that we want to be out there on an online community and not something that we want to be advertising against. 

“GARM really took the initiative to put together a set of categories that you need to think about as you’re considering brand safety and suitability and online advertising. And going in deeper and showing different levels of risk for each category. We don’t want hate content being out there. It can endanger the online community and the community at large. 

“Next, we’re moving into the suitability framework. You can see the different nuances involved. For example, depicting the use of weapons in the context of arms and ammunition. That’s actually medium risk in this definition, when it is presented in the context of entertainment. Some brands may be okay with that, some brands may not. It depends on that particular brand’s preferences and how they represent themselves.”

On the myth of “no such thing as bad advertising”

“Some brands, especially those who are in the insurance space, for example, may be very conservative about the types of videos that are seen against their ads. We’ve even heard from them that their legal teams get involved in wanting to know what types of videos or ads we’re seeing against. They want to be very careful there. I think other brands that are more conservative, could be other industries as well. Like product brands like PNG, things like that, who havef more conservative values and vision. They don’t want to be seen against videos that may be construed as inappropriate.

“They’re applying to their vision and values as much as they can, given the plethora of content that’s out there. Making sure that they’re seen against good content. But then the other is the consequences of being seen against a video that’s extremely harmful in nature. Maybe it involves a school shooting, things like that. There could be different trends on all these different platforms. We could be getting more views and videos like that. Your ad may get placed against that. And yes, you’ll get a lot of eyeballs, or a lot of impressions on that ad. But then all of a sudden, it seems like you’re okay with that kind of content. And that kind of backlash can be seen in negative press. That can lead to less purchases from your brand and things like that. It’s kind of a PR nightmare.”

About the speaker
Bharat Manglani ZEFR, Senior Product Manager Contributor

Bharat Manglani is a Senior Product Manager at Zefr, an ad tech company focused on enabling content-level targeting and measurement across the world’s largest walled garden platforms. He was also a Product Manager at Human Security, a cybersecurity company focused on verifying the humanity of transactions over the Internet and disrupting the economics of cybercrime. Currently, he manages Zefr\'s reporting and analytics products, and his passion lies in protecting the Internet by helping to identify brand unsafe content.

About the host
Ryan Bazinet Products That Count, Senior Editor
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