At the e4m-BBC World News webinar, industry experts dived into how advertisers should choose a brand-safe environment
At the e4m webinar held in association with BBC World News & bbc.com, panellists Vivek B Srivatsa, Head-Marketing for Passenger Vehicle Business Unit (PVBU), Tata Motors Ltd; Rubeena Singh, CEO, Iprospect; Vishal Bhatnagar, Sales Director – South Asia, BBC Global News; and Jayen Mehta, Senior General Manager (Planning and Marketing), Amul (GCMMF) discussed the topic ‘‘Decoding Brand Safety & Sustainability’.
Recently, the topic of brand safety has taken centre stage. Brands have started taking steps to control the narrative and bring a certain level of balance in their narrative. The virtual session shared insights on how advertisers and brands can choose a truly brand-safe haven in today’s market scenario and build a credible approach amongst their consumers.
Talking about brand safety in current times, Srivatsa commenced the discussion, “In regards to brand safety, it is a very sensitive world out there today. There can be any wrong messaging that can be misinterpreted. We are putting in place a series of actions and converting it into a process where we don’t put ourselves in a position, which is susceptible to misinterpretation. There are different aspects to it in terms of what we say and stand for. We are looking at a process around it. We are in the business of manufacturing cars and we know exactly what the customer wants and try to keep our narrative business-centric.”
Brand safety is not a new challenge and remains top of mind for brands. It also continues to earn global attention. Singh said, “ The COVID-19 pandemic has established the new normal of having a digital-first lifestyle for the majority of the global population. Consumption patterns have changed where more news and video streaming is on digital. Where customers go, advertising follows. At the same time, the ecosystem has become far more complex where you have fake news that erodes institutional trust. The measurement now is fragmented in the connected TV space across devices and publishers. As a result of it, ads can appear to support content that doesn’t necessarily align with the brand values. Brands need to evaluate the risk that is involved when it comes to associating themselves with video games especially in regards to violence, language, etc. As a result of these trends, Industry stakeholders have called for accountability from technology and ad partners. New standards for brand safety are critical for protecting brands from association with unsafe, illegal or inappropriate content.”
Mehta remarked, “In the case of Amul, a 75-year-old brand is owned by 3.6 million farmers. It is not just that owners that are capitalized but also the farmers are owners of this brand and our consumers that trust the brand blindly. When advertising on TV we don’t know about the thousands of spots that come every day on which channel and the news content that particular spot is going to have. When you do a long term deal it becomes very critical what is happening on ground. We need to listen to the customers and have a powerful social media presence also to counter. Then we can navigate through tough times. As brands, we need to be very careful about understanding the context and what communication is going out. The Amul girl has been talking about serious issues for a long time and we are a part of the conversation as well.”
BBC’s Bhatnagar talking about brand safety said, “It is a question of trust for us. Fundamentally news itself is a product that is built on trust. Our viewers have been coming to us for about 100 odd years because they expect accurate credible independent news. For us, brand safety is built in our core values and approach. It is a challenge every day to make sure that you keep your environment safe to retain trust and that trust is what influences everything we do.”
On the other side, brands are also looking at metrics for reach. Srivatsa speaking about how to navigate around that shared, “We always double-check news and hence we usually speak only about our services and products we offer. Treat every news as fake unless you can prove it, this is our approach. We do take stands as well that is very clear in drawing a mid path and not ruffling your feathers is the path that we go into. If you are only looking at an ROI based approach rather than any other guideline you will always be able to defend yourself on your decisions and be able to attribute logical reasoning to your decisions.”
Singh remarked, “Advertisers are looking for a value edition and credibility when they look at associating with news platforms. Brands in today’s environment want to be careful about the platforms they chose. The responsibility of broadcasters and advertisers must be fixed. For long term relationships with advertisers, balanced news is the way forward.”
Mehta advising on how one can ensure brand safety amidst the numbers game said, “The entire media buying task taken by our ad and media agencies. They know exactly the values we stand for in a brand and align with the right news environment. If we see the tone changing or there is any aggression on a channel we try to talk to them. If they mend their ways we stick around otherwise we don’t. End of the day, as a brand custodian, it is more our responsibility to see where our money is invested and the exposure that we get.”
Srivastava commented that it is important that we as a brand need to push the envelope on what we communicate and dry out the quest of a fake news cycle.
Bhatnagar sharing their process to ensure brand safety said, “Any content that goes on our platform, passes through the filters. Any information we put has an impact so we are careful that no fake news nor news is exaggerated.”
Srivatsava said that going forward the nation needs more positivity. He added, “In terms of safety we need to tighten up the process so we don’t add more fire to the current situation.”
Singh leaving us with her final thoughts said, “Advertisers now need more new approaches to brand safety, which is finding a suitable space for advertising.”