Three Crucial Questions for Addressing Brand Safety

Chris Glover VP, Marketing & Business Strategy, FreeWheel

Have you scrolled through Twitter, read your favorite industry trade, or dug into your morning news check recently? Then you know the digital ecosystem has become increasingly challenging for brands to navigate. We see advertiser after advertiser making tough choices to ensure their brand messages are appearing where they should – environments that are fit for their blue-chip brands. It’s a great reminder that, now more than ever, quality matters, and premium video represents a beacon of light that brands can rely on to safely find the audiences they are after.

We think a lot about this at FreeWheel, especially through the great work being done with The FreeWheel Council for Premium Video. To that end, we’ve developed a three-point brand safety framework for both buyers and sellers of video to keep top of mind.

  1. Are you demanding quality – in content and audience?

 A simple truth is that premium video is inherently brand-safe. The content is highly curated and featured in high-quality, sought-after environments which are directly complementary to major brands and their values. The production quality invested in premium video ensures an immersive experience from the smallest of devices to a 60-inch television set. These facts deliver the right context and user experience – creating an environment critical to delivering real audiences that drive tangible business outcomes.

Another stark truth: not all audiences are equal. Stakeholders need to consider the value of viewer engagement, instead of just focusing on metrics more applicable for lower-tier inventory. Premium video audiences are far more likely to be engaged viewers, which creates the ideal opportunity for advertisers to drive positive associations by placing smart, well-made messages in the context of high-quality, professionally produced content.

  1. Do you know what’s happening? Don’t cede control.

 It is imperative that marketers invest their advertising dollars in a way that maintains their core brand values.  To this end, they should demand a clear line of sight into the quality of content to which their messages are being placed. In addition to providing confidence that their messages are being viewed by the actual audiences they intend to reach, marketers can further achieve the contextual relevance that is crucial to their brand goals.

This level of control brings further benefit. The perils of long-tail oriented open exchanges and inadequately managed marketplaces continue to plague buyers and sellers who are focused on safe environments at scale. Enabling control in a transaction for both sides means that this high-quality, innately fraud-free, viewable inventory mitigates the inherent risks of latency, excessive frequency, and data leakage. Most importantly, transacting with control and quality assurances will yield better outcomes and greater ROI for advertisers.

  1. Who is accountable? (Spoiler alert: everyone.)

 With fraud and viewability plaguing the longer tail of the internet (see Methbot as a recent example), there is a clear need for accountability and a focus on quality.  All stakeholders must be accountable to ensure goals are being met while safeguarding the brands of the advertiser and publisher, as well as the consumer experience.  Premium publishers must provide safe, well-lit sources of inventory that brand marketers can inherently trust as environments worthy of their messages.

On the other side of the equation, agencies must be held accountable by the brand marketers they represent, and ensure they are providing the maximum ROI while leveraging truly fraud-free, highly viewable, and engaging environments. And while all the players must be accountable, there needs to be a recognition of shared responsibility. As Augustine Fou, independent cyber security and ad fraud researcher, articulates in his recent Advertising Age piece, “A concerted effort among advertisers, agencies, and publishers is the only way to advance our position in this complex battle against the bad guys.”

It’s clear that premium video influences, shapes, and delivers on the expectations of viewers through curated experiences—while ensuring the quality, safety, control and transparency that the advertising industry must continue to demand. Brand safety has never been more topical or crucial. Invest in the clarity of premium video – and leave the murky waters to those that are comfortable with risk and long-term costs.