Everyone in the ad tech world knows that programmatic buying is very complex and that brands frequently aren’t aware of all the sites and domains where their ads end up. But the average consumer may not necessarily know this aspect.
Therefore, staying away from websites that spread disinformation is not just about reallocating ad budgets but also about maintaining your brand image before core consumers, who may assume that you are implicitly endorsing the content of all the sites where your ads run.
As the world reels from disinformation, marketers are calling for more transparency and control over where their ads are placed.
Jay Pinho, Product Management, Oracle Moat, discussed how marketers can safeguard their ad spend and protect brands from inadvertently supporting sites that spread disinformation.
Asked if infiltration of disinformation restricts brands, especially the traditional ones, from spending on digital, Pinho said if you look at the trends in digital ad spend over the last few years, it doesn’t seem like they’re all that hesitant. Brands actually pull back from relatively closed platforms with limited third-party brand safety controls and measurement, and from those that suffered large brand safety issues.
“It’s the availability of holistic measurement and verification providers that actually gives brands the confidence to invest at scale in digital, because they have insight into everywhere they’re running and can easily investigate any issues as they crop up,” he said.
Brand safety is absolutely a growth area for a few reasons, he added.
As brands move into new and emerging formats such as connected TV (CTV), streaming audio, gaming, etc., it is important for them to increase the coverage of brand safety measurement and controls to include those areas to help ensure there aren’t any soft spots where brand safety risk is unmeasured.
This, he said, is especially true given the heavy investments and high CPMs in formats such as CTV. Second, the definition of brand safety and suitability itself continues to expand.
“Several years ago, brands may have understood ‘brand safety’ in its entirety to mean the set of ‘dirty dozen’ avoidance segments. But nowadays the emergence of the finely tuned GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media)-tiered brand safety standards, the availability of customised contextual brand suitability controls, and the addition of criteria such as disinformation avoidance and even accurate geo-targeting, means there are many levers that brands can now pull to help ensure their messaging is showing up in the right place, at the right time, and in the right environment,” he said.
Oracle Advertising is helping brands and publishers alike to understand that brand safety and suitability is at least as much an offensive as a defensive play.
Pinho said there can sometimes be a stigma associated with brand safety controls that feels like a defensive crouch, but in reality using really granular and bespoke brand suitability controls is equally valuable when targeting, where you want to appear as where you don’t.
“There are large rewards to those who invest the time and effort in experimenting with different strategies in order to find the right mix,” he added.
Its collaboration with The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) offers an additional layer of brand protection to marketers. GDI’s risk-rating analysis powers a new Oracle Contextual Intelligence safety segment for potentially false information. Marketers can opt to use the segment to block the domains categorised as high-risk for disinformation and avoid targeting these sites for ads moving forward.
Asked whether or not brands will increase their investments in digital with such a suite, Pinho said that as a general rule, he hasn’t seen a large-scale impact for its brand clients since it was launched about three months ago. Any impressions they were inadvertently running on disinformation sites can now seamlessly be reallocated to legitimate, high-quality sites instead, which is really the whole vision of what we’re trying to accomplish here, he said.
He added, “We want to do our part to help eliminate disinformation, conspiracy theories, and hoax content from the ad tech ecosystem and enable brands to align their investment dollars with their corporate values by spending with premium content, whether it’s local or national news, lifestyle publications, or whatever else.”
The ad tech agency has been involved in the CTV space (whose content overlaps substantially with television, in many cases) for years and invests heavily in expanding audio measurement as well.
“With every new platform and environment we engage with, our aim is to enable as much of our measurement and activation suite cross-platform as possible. In some cases, this will happen in phases, as new platforms don’t always have the data and transparency that’s required to do fully granular measurement and/or targeting and avoidance right from launch. But in our experience, over time (and with the input of advertisers looking to minimise risk and maximise business outcomes), the platforms do open up to more measurement and transparency (a pattern we’ve seen over and over again on just about all the social platforms and walled gardens, for example),” he added.
It is a fact that quarter a billion dollars is paid to disinformation sites on behalf of well-known brands each year. GDI combines advanced machine-learning technology with community-driven, standardised risk rating methodologies to provide transparent, independent, neutral and scalable disinformation risk ratings of online publishers around the world. This methodology currently covers over 19 national media markets and multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and others.