Brand Safety in Online Advertising
A hot topic in the advertising world these days is brand safety. In the past few weeks, many large companies around the world have “pulled their ads from YouTube and Google’s ad network” because of their concern that “their message may be appearing next to hate speech and worse”. Put simply, companies want brand safety because they do not want an ad to show in a context that could damage their brand. Placing an advertisement before a YouTube video or on a website in the Google network that has content that contradicts a brand’s mission or is offensive in any other way puts the advertising brand’s image at risk because of the apparent association.
This isn’t a new problem, or even a problem of people being overly offended. Google executives told Business Insider that “400 hours of user-generated content are uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it extremely difficult to monitor which content is safe for brands to advertise against and which isn’t”. With a pretty incomprehensible amount of content being published online every second of every day, it’s easy to see what is or isn’t deemed offensive before placing an advertisement with it. Advertisers do have the options to allow/not allow their online ads to appear by certain content, but with the speed of content being published this system has yet to be perfected.
As with the issues surrounding fake news online in the past few months, Marketing Land states that websites that are a part of the Google Display Network include “many extremist sites propagating right- and left-wing ideologies, hoaxes and misinformation”. Just like the saying goes, ‘don’t believe everything you read online’ because there really is tons of incorrect and potentially offensive content online, and these are the things that brands do not want to be associated with.
After many large brands have suspended their ad campaigns due to this issue of brand safety, Google is taking more precautions to make sure ads don’t appear alongside “pages or videos with hate speech, gory or offensive content”. In a Google blog, they say that “in a very small percentage of cases, ads appear against content that violates [their] monetization policies. [They] promptly remove the ads in those instances, but [they] know [they] can and must do more.” Although Google offers many tools to help advertisers have control where their ads appear, they are currently working to “give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network.”
With brand safety becoming enough of a problem for large brands to pull their campaigns from Google’s ad network which has over two million websites, it will be essential that better tools be put in place for the online advertising to continue to grow as it has.
Sources: https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Marketers-Brand-Safety-Wake-Up-Call/1015498, http://www.businessinsider.com/enders-analysis-chart-shows-correlation-between-ad-prices-and-brand-safety-2017-3, https://blog.google/topics/google-europe/improving-our-brand-safety-controls/