manage brand reputation online

Online brand safety: why you should take a proactive stance

Don’t find your brand guilty by association for being on the wrong side of the online neighbourhood.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines brand safety as keeping a brand’s reputation safe when they advertise online. In digital marketing this means using tools and strategies to ensure your online ad does not appear in a context that could potentially taint your brand’s image. This applies to:

  • Inappropriate placements: Your company makes beef burgers, and the next thing you see your ad in the vicinity of an article on deforestation or the benefits of veganism to the planet’s health.
  • Contrarian or offensive sites or content: Your ad finds its way to what Bannerflow.com calls the “Dirty Dozen” arenas – military conflict, obscenity, illegal drugs, adult content, crime, death and/or injury, online piracy, hate speech, terrorism, spam/harmful sites and tobacco.
  • Fake news: If you pay no attention to where your ad is being placed, it could end up near malicious content or fake news.
  • Extremist sites and/or hateful content: Unwittingly, you may end up appearing to support or contribute financially towards a cause or group you are not aligned with at all.

All of the above can do untold harm to a business’s standing, no matter its size.

How to protect your brand
Including brand safety best practices is a must when implementing your online marketing strategy. Here are a few aspects to consider:

  • Understand what brand safety means to you: Brand safety is fairly subjective. What might seem inappropriate or offensive to one company may not apply to another. A gaming company may be okay within certain contexts, as opposed to a business that develops apps for children.
  • Take ownership of your media-buying strategy: Bannerflow advises the following: “You need to know where your banners are served. And you need to know where your money is being spent in the ad tech chain.” Without this data, you can’t make informed decisions and could be susceptible to fraud.
  • Use reputable programmatic platforms: These platforms “enable marketers and advertisers to automate the purchase and management of their digital ad campaigns. This includes media buying, ad placement, performance tracking, and campaign optimisation,” explains martechadvisor.com contributor Indrajeet Deshpande. He suggests exploring platforms like SmartyAds, TubeMogul and fi for comprehensive ad management. Also look at options available from Facebook’s Ad Manager and Google AdWords.
  • Choose premium inventory: This refers to “the ad space an online or offline publisher has to sell on their website, mobile, app, video, and so on” explains Deshpanda. This might be a more expensive option, but it will ensure your ads don’t end up in an unsavoury domain. Conversely avoid blacklisted publishers or those offering cheap deals.
  • Monitor your campaigns in real time: Track where your ads are being placed so that if you need to take action you can do so in real time.

In the end, you need to ask yourself what topics or domains you’re comfortable being associated with, and what you’d rather avoid. Understanding your audience and their sensitivities play a key role in this too. It’s worth the investment to know that what you’re putting out there is enhancing your brand image, and that your message – and by default reputation – is not being tarnished by its surroundings. Content agencies can advise you on the best way forward.

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Sign up for our monthly newsletter – get the freshest content marketing news straight to your inbox!

GET IN TOUCH

9th Floor Tarquin House
81 Loop Street
Cape Town
8001
South Africa

+27 (0)21 424 3517
info@tppsa.co.za