8th April 2019

Brand safety looks both ways

Brand Safety

The weird and wonderful online world gave birth to what is now known as the brand safety issue. In short: who wants their carefully built brand allegedly associated with terrorism? The reputational fall-out can become all-consuming.

That is the black and white stuff. The issue is often more nuanced than that: inappropriate editorial or a competing ad, product listing or recommendation, can easily neutralise media impact, killing the campaign at the final execution. What is more, this is often out of the control of the advertiser.

Black lists are a poor enforcement lever – too easy to circumvent – they need the bad guy to come clean, plus they only address the first of the issues, not the nuances.


The other side of the coin - retailers are brands too

What about the other side of the coin? What about the concerns of those who own the websites? Online retailers do not want their carefully honed user journey to be trashed by the inappropriate placement of just the wrong ad at just the wrong time. They want to protect their own customer experience, augmenting, not disrupting the core shopping mission. It really doesn’t take much to knock consumers off their target, with cart abandonment rates north of 70% (Statista).

Different goals, different perspectives

Retailers first purpose in life is not as a media publisher, it is as a retailer. Ask them. And right now, they are fighting for their lives on two fronts – the shift away from the high street and the impact of Amazon.

Even when it comes to selling media itself, the biggest advertisers are the same companies their buying teams face off against for pricing negotiations on a regular basis. Advertising can be subsumed as a bargaining chip within a larger conversation, to the detriment of the fundamental retailer objective of driving basket.

The question is: how can we help retailers to learn from Amazon, Facebook and Google, whilst retaining their unique DNA as icons of the high street?

A route out - honest broker

Advertisers what brand safety, visibility, transparency, access to better data. They want all of it at scale – without having to deal with individual property owners, each of whom uses different technology – it is just too complex.

Retailers want brand relevance, good customer experience, maximal additional revenue. They want all of it without losing control over the customer journey or adding costs to an operation already under intense pressure.

One answer is a Retail Network, where a trusted intermediary sets and maintains standards that work for both sets of parties. Competing entities come together to build something that ultimately works for all. See how the UK press (another sector hit hard by a shift to online) has embraced this approach: https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/want-best-ad-every-uk-national-newspaper-one-go-thats-375000/1487213