Brand Reputation Management – The Safety of Your Brand Online

By: Madison Johansen

What is Brand Reputation Management and Why is it a Big Deal?

In simple terms, brand reputation management is the practice that ensures ads will not appear in a context that could potentially damage or negatively impact the brand. A classic example is a family oriented brand’s ad somehow showing up on an adult-only or X-rated site. Of course, all brands are different and thus not all will have the same concerns in terms of content or topics they do not want to be associated with. Each brand should work with their platforms, exchanges, or vendors to develop their own unique strategy to try to prevent any crossover between their ads and controversial content to improve brand safety.

Brand reputation management has been a hot display topic for some time now, but has recently become the center of many conversations due to several large brands finding their ads next to extremist content and thus pulling their advertising from major sites, with the biggest hit being YouTube. The problem here is, not only are the brands’ reputations at stake by being wrongly associated with this content, but by running next to it, they are actually helping fund this controversial content without knowing it. This has become a big issue, and has caused many advertisers to question whether or not to follow suit. Everyone is probably wondering ‘what is Google doing to stop this?’

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to completely guarantee brand reputation management on the internet, especially with programmatic advertising. Most platforms already have policies in place to try to prevent content from showing on inappropriate sites. Google has said that they are taking more drastic steps to tighten their policies – employing more people to police content and increase manual review time, and making it easier for brands to use tools aimed at limiting brand risk. Although these are relatively small steps, these recent issues have shown Google that advertisers and agencies are demanding transparency.

Improving Your Brand Reputation Management as an Advertiser

In order to help mitigate your own brand’s risk, create a blacklist or whitelist of sites that you know you do or do not want your ads to appear on. The platforms or exchanges themselves typically have their own blacklist of the usual controversial content and sites, but additional sites and topics based on your specific brand is a good extra step.

If you are running programmatic advertising and aren’t already utilizing a third-party verification vendor such as Integral Ad Science or DoubleVerify, we recommend doing so. These partners provide another layer of protection against risky, unsafe content using their own brand safety technologies.

Integral’s measurement and blocking technologies have been accredited by the Media Rating Council, meaning ads won’t serve on pages that they have identified as unsafe and they provide the data to prove it. They dynamically score individual pages so you know what type of content will appear with your advertising, and they have developed customizable tools to help avoid risk across multiple categories and thresholds.

DoubleVerify evaluates the quality of each impression delivered and the net result of each measure – authenticating the quality of digital media, including viewability, brand safety, and fraud protection. DoubleVerify also recently achieved certification as a validated Digital Advertising Assurance Provider (DAAP) for the TAG Anti-Piracy program, an initiative to help brands protect their digital advertising.

Google also recently announced that they will be integrating with third-party brand safety vendors as well, but haven’t provided an exact timeline for when these tools will be available. Google will allow these vendors to conduct their third-party brand safety reporting on YouTube, which will be available soon.

In order to maintain brand safety, you should continue to update and make changes to your strategy. There will be new topics, keywords, sites, etc. that should be blocked or excluded from your campaign strategy based on what is going on in the news or even something specific that happens with your brand. With new channels and technologies constantly emerging, your brand safety strategy will need to adapt
and change as well.

Here’s the Bottom Line To Ensure Brand Reputation Management

If you are an advertiser worried about your brand, you have the right to be concerned, but with the pressure being put on the industry right now, positive changes are more likely to come in the near future. If nothing else, the recent headlines have increased the awareness of these issues and have brought to light areas where improvement is needed. We should all be educated and aware of these concerns, do our part to protect the brand safety of our own brands, and continue to demand transparency wherever appropriate.

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