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What is brand safety? Checklist for protecting your brand when advertising online




Advertisers have more options than ever for placing their ads in the digital world. The increased visibility, however, also carries an increased risk. Advertisers must take precautions to protect their brands by placing their ads in safe and appropriate locations, known as brand safety.

Brand safety is the assurance that a business’s ads will not appear alongside content that could damage the business’s reputation or product. For example, a company that sells health products would not want its ads to appear on a website that promotes unhealthy lifestyles. Brand safety is crucial because it protects businesses from being associated with content that could damage their reputations. 

That’s why brand safety is so vital for companies today. It’s not enough to have a good product or service – you also need to be able to protect your image and reputation from potentially harmful exposure.

Here is a checklist of how to protect your brand when advertising online:

  Establish what is safe and appropriate. 

Brand safety is one of many factors marketers need to consider when buying ads online. Brand safety protects your digital ads from appearing alongside harmful content, but brand suitability is finding what content matches your brand identity and products. For instance, alcohol ads could appear next to alcohol-themed content, but for clothing sold to teens, that wouldn’t be appropriate and would reflect poorly on the brand.

Determine what content is appropriate or inappropriate for your brand ahead of launching your ad campaigns, and draw up guidelines on what is appropriate or inappropriate for your brand to appear on various platforms. After establishing brand safety standards, create a scorecard or policy that holds publishers and verification partners accountable. Keep your brand safety protocols fresh by reviewing them every six months.

  Partner with a marketing platform with rigid brand safety guidelines.

Once you know what kind of environment is appropriate for your brand, you can start looking for partners to help you achieve your goals. Make sure the platforms you advertise on follow rigorous brand and platform safety guidelines so that your brand’s ads and online placements meet well-defined standards. This way, you can ensure your ads build the image you want, building trust between your brand and its consumers.

  Analyze data collected from third parties.

As an advertiser, you must be vigilant in protecting your brand by ensuring that your ads are placed in safe and appropriate environments. You should also seek platforms partnered with third-party measurement solutions, such as DoubleVerify or Integral Ad Science (IAS). Advertisers can use those partnerships to ensure their ads are displayed in safe, appropriate settings, protecting and growing their brands.

  Use negative target exclusions or a keyword blacklist.

When setting up your campaigns, create a list of keywords you can use to filter out contextual targeting you do not wish to target. While adding too many exclusion keywords can limit your reach, it’s one of the most proactive things you can do to ensure your brand’s narrative is displayed as you intend.

  Review your guidelines and partners regularly.

The final step in protecting your brand is regularly reviewing your guidelines and partners. This process will help you to ensure that you are still on track and that your partners are still meeting your needs. Regular review cycles will also help you to identify any new risks that may arise so that you can take steps to mitigate those risks.

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Anati Zubia
Head of Global Marketing, Quora
Anati (Anna-Tye) is a Phoenix-based brand and revenue growth professional leading Quora's marketing team. When she's not researching the latest marketing and technology trends, you can find her traveling the world.

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