Brand safety is a long-standing issue that affects thousands of companies in every industry. Ads from family-friendly companies are being found on extremist YouTube channels, and Facebook feeds are constantly bombarded with fake news and other objectionable content. This is no longer an issue marketers can ignore; they have to pay more attention.
We are at a point where 7 out of every 10 marketers say that their brands, or brands they’ve worked with, have been exposed to brand safety issues at least once.
Brand safety is a severe and growing issue, one that’s not going away unless companies take active steps towards better ad placement and monitoring. It’s easy to blame various areas of the complex ad-supply chain, but brands are ultimately the ones who have the most to lose. If they don’t care about it, no one else will. As a result, they are the ones who are stepping up and taking the most action.
About half of marketers surveyed by Digiday said they reviewed their agency and vendor contracts over the past year, and more than a third are layering on extra third-party ad measurement to their campaigns. However, the most common tactic is to simply increase spending on brand-safe sites and apps.
Which environments can be deemed brand-safe? What are some areas to avoid? The lack of trust from consumers on social media platforms when it comes to basic issues like privacy and data protection is just one indicator that social may not be the best place to invest. Yet in 2018, $25.24 billion in ad dollars will be spent on social networks in the U.S. alone.
That’s not all. The biggest culprit is fake news. According to the AdColony Brand Safety Survey, ads from “fake news” outlets are most commonly found on social media platforms, like Facebook (47 percent), versus nine percent in mobile games.
Sixty percent of users also encounter hateful, inappropriate, or offensive content on Facebook, compared to the 19 percent in mobile games. This type of content placed next to, above, or below an ad is not only more likely to negatively impact how users view the outlet or app, whether it’s a social, news, entertainment, or gaming app, but their perceptions of the advertiser as well.
Deceptive content also has a bigger impact on ad engagement over ad relevance. According to Business Insider Intelligence’s Digital Trust Ranking, 54 percent of consumers said that deceptive content is very or extremely impactful on their decision to engage or not to engage with ads, compared to 35 percent for ad relevance.
People tend to be unreceptive to ads if they don’t trust the content on the platform — even if they would otherwise be relevant. On the other hand, high digital trust is an indicator that consumers will be more receptive to ads and sponsored content. Brands that create compelling campaigns on trusted platforms can enhance their credibility and are more likely to receive positive engagement from audiences.
More than six in ten (63 percent) users would respond more positively to the same ads if viewed in a more established content environment, according to a study. Another 37 percent claimed that ads on objectionable sites would change their brand opinion, and 66 percent would turn away from a brand after a negative brand experience.
There are other platforms, however, that offer a safer environment for brands. For example, mobile games continually prove to be a safe environment when it comes to maintaining a positive company image. Mobile games are professionally-created content, high-quality environments that are premium environments for ads. Ads in games catch users when they are happy and engaged and not bothered by this type of negative content.
It’s true; consumers have said they prefer to encounter ads in mobile games over YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. Consumers who see an ad in a mobile game are more likely to interact and view the brand in a positive light. In fact, almost 30 percent of users end up purchasing products or services through mobile games after seeing an ad on the platform, compared to the mere nine and ten percent who make purchases on Snapchat and Instagram.
Consumers care a lot about the ads they see, and especially where they see it. That’s why it’s of utmost importance for companies to invest in brand-safe environments where they can feel comfortable knowing their message is going out to the right audience and their image isn’t being harmed.
Brand safety isn’t something to set and forget. We must deal with the issue immediately and actively, or the situation is only going to worsen. If we ignore it, there could be a complete pullback or loss of interest from consumers, and your brand reputation could be irreversibly damaged.
Matt Barash is the Head of Strategy & Business Development at AdColony, where he oversees AdColony’s global commercial relationships with automated advertising, data and marketing technology partners.
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