Q: A couple of brands got some not-so-great press regarding the context their ads were being served in this week. Brand safety has always been a concern in digital advertising, but it seems like more marketers are raising concerns about ensuring their ads aren’t being served beside questionable content, why do you think that is?
A: I think there are two things driving the increased vigilance around brand safety. One is just the proliferation of content creation. It used to be that only journalists or businesses created content for the web. The rise of social media and self-publishing platforms has just created a lot of content that is not necessarily vetted by a gatekeeper. Combine that with a real-time bidding environment, in which decisions to serve ads are being made by machines in a matter of milliseconds, there are more opportunities for a misalignment of content and brand messages.
Q: So, how does a programmatic platform like Simpli.fi make sure its advertisers brands are safely served in the correct context?
A: At Simpli.fi, we have three levels of brand safety filtering. We start with the exchanges that we source our inventory from. We specify that the exchanges only send us brand-safe content to the best of their ability. Second, we do our own page level scan of all pages from which we receive bid requests, and automatically no-bid on any impressions that are coming from pages which our engine classifies as adult or otherwise not brand safe. And finally we create custom whitelists and blacklists that prevent ads from being served against particular content categories that advertisers specify.
Q: How effective is that filtering process in preventing brand safety issues?
A: Our process has proven to be very effective. One of the keys is that we scan on the page level, not at the domain level. This is important because sites that have generally brand safe content may have a subset of pages that are not brand safe. It is also important to have a system that updates in near real time. This is because new content is being created all the time, and it is important to get that new content classified quickly into the inventory pool if it passes the standards.
Q: How does transparency impact your efforts in brand safety?
A: Transparency of both audience and inventory is very important when it comes to brand safety. We believe that advertisers deserve to know exactly who they are serving their ads to, and on what sites their ads are being served. And because we are completely transparent, our clients can pull this information at any time and be assured that their ads are being served in a way that meets their goals.