How Ad Context & User Privacy Influence Brand Perception

A brand is only as good as its customers perceive it to be. In today’s competitive app market, positive brand perception is an absolute must towards the path of the business’ success, which is why marketers in the digital advertising space should always keep a close eye on the context of their ads and on their users’ privacy.

Ensuring ads do not appear next to inappropriate content and respecting the privacy of users, who can feel wrongly targeted by brands either due to an incorrect data-led assumption or being inherently against hyper-personalization, hold true value for advertisers leveraging on mobile, the most personal of devices.

Contextual Brand Safety

Arguably, the most common method of protecting a brand’s image is applying contextual measures. Simply put, brands define the type of content that they do not want to be associated with when promoting their products. This is a straightforward method that will always be redefined as times change (think: pandemic and fake news) and as user consumption behaviors evolve.

  1. Action points for marketers
    With the increasing channels available for app acquisition, platforms like Facebook and Google are including more options to address brand safety concerns by offering advertisers the choice to opt-out of specific publisher categories falling under ‘sensitive’ content (such as alcohol, gambling, and politics). Additionally, marketers can apply a list of keywords that prevent ads from appearing against specific topics or content and go more granular by compiling a white or blacklist of sites and apps that are deemed ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’.
  2. Be cautious when promoting alongside user-generated content
    Despite being an invaluable tool for advertising, social media has often been in the spotlight for user-generated content surrounding fake news, hate speech, and data collection. If marketers decide to use social media as a paid channel, there are a few methods offered by these platforms to ensure brand safety. For example, Facebook allows marketers to filter inventories to limit where ads can appear and TikTok recently announced that they have partnered with “OpenSlate” as part of their “TikTok Brand Safety Solution” ensuring that all content and categories are filtered and verified.

In the end, though, brands need to be realistic about brand safety never being 100% guaranteed when it comes to user-generated content. Educating internal stakeholders on this and having a response plan ready for a negative episode is crucial.

User Privacy

Just like brand safety, user privacy should be on top of every app marketers’ mind and is key to positive brand perception.

  1. Be transparent about data collection
    One of the most important ways to protect users’ privacy is around the management of data collection. Mobile app owners, in particular, have access to rich and robust personal identifiable information, which, if allowed by the user, can be used to access their camera, to track their location, or to target them outside of their app.Ethics and a customer-first mindset play a huge role in this. Brands must respect their customers’ privacy by being clear and concise on how and why their data will be collected and used. Today’s consumer largely anticipates a first-party data relationship to take place with the brands they choose to engage. Is it for Analytics? Is it for more targeted ads? Whatever it is, be transparent.
  2. Provide value through push notifications or don’t use them at all
    CRM has always been critical for brands to minimize churn, and email has long been at the center of re-engagement strategies. Just as email relevance and frequency are critical, push notifications are important to get right. Rich app analytics mean marketers can intimately understand where and why there are usage lapses, and push notifications are a powerful form of re-engagement solution.Same as data, push notification strategies are best approached with users on top of mind over business priorities. These notifications are by default an opt-in feature in iOS, while they are an opt-out feature for Android which is why app owners should see value from users who have this feature enabled. Understand why there are usage lapses in-app, then plan push notifications accordingly. When used carelessly, users may choose to disable them, or worse, dislike the brand and eventually uninstall the app.
  3. Find your audience’s ideal frequency capping
    Frequency capping is a common topic that all marketers want answered. Unfortunately, there is no set rule nor a fixed frequency cap when running campaigns. We do, however, have some levers that we can pull to avoid the risk of turning off users: understand the purpose of the retargeting campaign to plan better and select audience segments that will likely go down the funnel based on their engagement with ads or their actions within the app or website.Retargeting, or the ability to show ads to audiences based on their actions, is one of the great strengths of the dominant digital media platforms. It is often tempting to maximize the chance of conversions by following users with ads, whenever or wherever they go online. But being more diligent and having a deeper understanding of cohorts will lead to a successful retargeting campaign and to ideal frequency capping.Distinguishing your brand in today’s competitive app market can be challenging. For brands looking to find an edge, taking care of building a positive brand perception is one of the most important points to address. With the context of ads and user privacy under control, you will undoubtedly be one step closer to ensuring their business success.

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