Brand Safety on Google

April 20, 2017

Digital advertisers have never had so many levers for control of where, when and how their digital ads can be placed. However, the automated technology in place to make all this happen at scale has drawbacks. 

Google has been in the headlines as of late because advertisers were showing next to content that they did not want to be associated with. This has ultimately triggered an industry-wide discussion about the importance of protecting brands in the digital landscape, particularly in a world where content can be created anywhere, and by anyone.

Today’s digital marketing environment requires appropriate steps to protect your client’s Brand.   “Brand Safety”, although not a new term, has emerged as one of the biggest issues facing the advertising industry, and our agency maintains a high level of scrutiny.  The ForwardPMX Trade-Desk currently uses Moat and Double Verify to monitor fraud, sensitive content exclusion and viewability.  While Google also allows for reporting on viewabilty with security ad tech companies, it does not allow ad-blocking.  This means additional steps must be taken when advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN) and YouTube. Domain and site level black/white lists are not enough.  Exclusions need to be set down to the page level.

ForwardPMX additionally regularly employs:

  1. Placement exclusions: allow you to specify pages, sites, mobile apps, and YouTube videos/channels that you would like to exclude from your YouTube and GDN campaigns.
  2. Topic exclusions: prevent your ads from running on inventory (domains, channels, videos) about certain subjects. For example,  you can exclude Politics as a topic from your campaign or any of its subtopics (Politics, Left-Wing Politics, Right-Wing Politics, Campaigns & Elections, Opinion & Commentary, Political Polls & Surveys)
  3. Digital Content Labels: work similarly to movie ratings. Selecting a Digital Content Label for your campaigns means that your ads will only run on inventory that’s appropriate for that audience.
  4. Content Type / Category exclusions: give you control over the types of YouTube and Display Network sites, content, and ad placements that you can allow or exclude. With a variety of category options – such as ad placements shown below-the-fold (GDN only), sensitive social issues (YT + GDN) and embedded videos (YT only) – you’ll have more control over where your ads shown across YouTube and the Display Network.
  5. Keyword exclusions: Negative keywords let you exclude content (sites, pages channels, videos) from campaigns that do not align with your brand.

Given the current concerns many advertisers have, Google is taking steps to mediate the situation, and has outlined additional brand safety controls to help advertisers protect themselves –

The bottom line is – advertising on the Google Display Network/YouTube, requires a level of granular exclusions that must be carefully selected.  There cannot be 100% guaranteed exclusion of all objectionable content until Google adjusts current safeguards.  ForwardPMX will continue to follow the developments and deploy all available controls and levers provided by Google and third parties to protect our partner’s brands.

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