We are living in sensitive times, battling multiple social issues and challenges. In this landscape, featuring content and messages can be a tricky affair for digital media platforms and advertisers. Misplacement of ads, featuring inappropriate content, unidentified bot traffic and other such challenges in the digital space can become recipes for damaged reputation and credibility of digital platforms and brands. In fact, in the recent past, many digital platforms faced criticism and backlash from users for inadequate brand safety practices. This puts enhanced focus on the need for strict brand safety measures.
Amid the rapid digital growth, ensuring digital safety of brands becomes a prime concern for brand custodians and publishers alike. They need to adopt efficient techniques to effectively place ads and reduce inappropriate content on platforms. This also includes leveraging the right tools and technologies for activities like performing traffic analysis to reduce bot traffic, marking out trolls, identifying unsafe content, improving ad placements and so on, in order to enhance brand safety and deliver safe experiences to the audience.
In this context, ZEE5 in association with ETBrandEquity.com hosted CONTECH.ED #bingenomics, where industry veterans discussed the growing importance of brand safety and how brand custodians and digital publishers can ensure a brand safe environment with the use of right tools and technologies.
Shaili Chopra, Founder of SheThePeople, hosted the session and engaged in conversation with Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media; Ashish Karnad, Executive Director, Nielsen Media; and Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head, ZEE5.
Enhancing overall safety of digital content and ads
The growing popularity and reach of digital entertainment and more recently, user-generated content (UGC) has turned digital platforms into a hub of opportunities for brands to reach out to a larger audience base. However, such opportunities are often accompanied by the need for vigilance and exercising caution.
The need for vigilance extends to ad publishers as well, as ad placements play a key role in how the audience receives and perceives a brand’s message. For instance, there is a danger of advertisements being placed in context of wrong content or fake information, which in turn, can create an undesired brand perception. Sandeep Goyal explains, “Brand safety is not just about UGC or trolled content. It is also about the algorithms placed on the Internet. There is a fear that your brand or advertisement can be placed in a completely unintended place with distinct context from what the brand or advertiser wished it to be.”
Digital platforms hosting content and advertisers leveraging that content must ensure these are closely monitored and curated to deliver safe, informative and appropriate content to the targeted audience.
Role of technology in digital brand safety
Technology has become a crucial aid in ensuring brand safety on the internet. New tools and continuous advancements have ensured efficient regulation of digital safety. Effective meta-tagging has become a crucial aspect for publishers to display the right advertisement with the right content. Regulating placement of advertisement and analysis of audience can help craft better ad strategies through programmatic technology. Furthermore, analytics can bring transparency and authenticity of the audience traffic, and in turn, help combat bot traffic or unwanted reach that causes spillage.
“Companies are using technology to reduce misplacement of advertisements. Necessary measures are taken to check if there is such a misplacement, and to pull out the ad if need be,” said Ashish Karnad over the role of technology in ensuring digital safety. However, he also mentioned the need for more optimized technologies through applications, “There are limitations with technology, as these checks and balances can be easily done on websites, but on apps it becomes difficult.” Yet, with the constant upgradation of tools and technologies, brand safety will become elemental across platforms and interfaces.
Building trust between advertisers and publishers
As part of the ongoing efforts of brand safety, publishers need to build trust and credibility with advertisers for the right dispersal of their advertising campaigns. For this, the publishers are building strict regulation processes to ensure the right placement of the advertisements with the right content, and in turn, deliver the desired viewer experience.
OTT platforms have so far been successful in self-regulation of featured content and placing the right advertising. Now, they are ensuring strict audits of UGC as well. Aparna Acharekar commented, “Moderation with UGC is very critical. It can be done by manual techniques or by putting artificial intelligence over it.” In a country like India, due to the rich diversity in languages, curating content while delivering regionalized and personalized experiences can be challenging. Digital platforms must adopt technologies like AI and analytics to prioritize regulated content.
A collaborative progress toward brand safety
The field of brand safety is wide and distinct, yet close-knit – involving digital publishers, brands and their audiences. Many brands and publishers are already cognizant of digital safety as a major focus area. Others who initially adopted digital advertising to remain aligned with current trends have also realized the importance of brand safety and are exploring the actions they must take.
As brand safety becomes a key business priority in the digital ecosystem, digital media platforms are taking all the necessary steps to regulate the content they feature to offer a safe environment to the advertisers and viewers alike. Modern technologies like AI and analytics are further improving safety features on platforms. In this venture, brands are also putting stronger focus on shaping their content in conjunction with digital platforms.
Brand safety is a collaborative, measured effort between brands and digital media platforms to deliver high quality, safe and risk-free audience experiences. Proper auditing of content, use of new technologies, regular traffic analysis, and a trusted partnership between digital platforms and brands will be crucial to a successful brand journey.