Building brand love means mastering brand safety

Keeping brands and customers safe with GroupM’s digital marketers’ playbook

Traditionally, brand safety risk in the digital world was limited to advertising – primarily programmatic and social. Now, with established media digitising and reinventing itself, opportunities to improve brand safety practices are appearing across new avenues, creating new challenges for established media and introducing old challenges to new media. And though there are opportunities to be embraced, brand safety is complex and nuanced and will continue to evolve in the years to come.

Looking at what the future may hold, GroupM’s Brand Safety: A Playbook for Marketers begins with an overview of political, social and technological shifts that impact brand reputation. It then digs down into five categories that are currently undergoing rapid transformation: connected TV, digital out-of-home, location data, audio and gaming. What are the challenges? And where are the opportunities?

Ten takeaways from the GroupM playbook

  1. Policy shifts such as GDPR have caused a seismic ripple throughout the industry, the full effects of which are yet to be felt. As old measurement methodologies such as third-party cookies fall away, the industry has an opportunity to collectively create better standards.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has established a new normal, digital-first lifestyle for many people around the world. Consumption habits have changed (more news, gaming and streaming content). And where consumers go, advertising follows, bringing new opportunities to strengthen brand safety measures. Aggressive keyword avoidance has demonetised online news while audiences have increased, and as such local news faces an existential crisis at a time when the public needs reliable information.
  3. Fake news and technologies that create deepfake videos are growing more sophisticated and they threaten to further erode institutional trust. Brands must be more proactive than ever to preserve their core assets and demand transparency in all transactions.
  4. Too much brand safety can be counterproductive. As brands work to preserve their equity and authenticity, they should beware of becoming overly cautious, as this may decrease the impact of overall performance.
  5. Connected TV promises to command a larger share of budgets in the coming years. However, measurement is fragmented across devices and publishers; ads can appear to support content that doesn’t align with the brand values, and fraud happens without vetting. Therefore, brands should demand greater transparency and interoperability from key players to allow contextual targeting and avoidance.
  6. Digital out-of-home advertising is set to grow more advanced and complex as programmatic buying becomes more commonplace. While OOH has long been used for creating broad awareness, it remains an open question as to whether brands will have – or need – access to more granular targeting and measurement solutions.
  7. Precise location data is a sensitive issue that will require additional due diligence. The development of location verification services and the use of aggregate learnings could mitigate some risk, but it is unclear how effective this will be if personal data becomes less available.
  8. Audio is growing as music streaming and podcasts become ever more popular. Advertiser controls are in their infancy, however, and the question of brand suitability/adjacency remains a concern. This is particularly true of podcasts, where content is relatively free of restrictions across the board.
  9. Gaming presents a huge opportunity in terms of audience size (and if people continue to stay home in the aftermath of the pandemic, gaming audiences are likely to retain some of the recent rapid growth). However, brands must navigate a vast landscape of platforms, titles, player personalities and publisher relationships in order to take advantage of the opportunities. While esports continues to grow in popularity, brands must be aware of “adjacency” risks, with violence and bad language being particularly problematic.
  10. Fundamentals still matter. As brand safety continues to shift and evolve along with developments in media and technology, brands must not lose sight of established best practices, which serve as a vital North Star in uncertain times.

For more in-depth insight, download GroupM’s Brand Safety: A Playbook for Marketers


published on

06 July 2020


Communications Technology & innovation

Related Topics

Branding COVID-19 Data privacy Esports

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