Brand Safety is a term that has exploded over the last few years in its use, and misuse, to describe topics in digital advertising. In various industry meetings, articles and opinion pieces, Brand Safety has been used to describe everything from ad fraud, viewability, user experience, and adjacency or placement in contextually appropriate environments. While these appear to be mostly B2B related issues in the digital advertising supply chain, one agency executive interviewed depicted the challenge:
"The problem with brand safety is it's a consumer issue. And so it touches on a lot ... strikes a lot more chords with our Brands, with our clients, and goes to their trust in the industry, their trust in our ability to find the right places for them. It erodes the trust, when violated, between the CMOs, to the media director who's responsible for placing those dollars. It erodes the CEOs trust that in the CMOs are making good decisions. It erodes the board of directors trust in a CEO to be able to make the decisions if their brand is on the cover of the Wall Street Journal."
While general industry references to Brand Safety as a term describe it as the protection of Marketers' brands, Publishers have claimed their brands are also at risk to inadequate controls of the advertising supply chain. This big tent description of the who and what of Brand Safety has caused confusion amongst many supply chain parties and in some cases has contributed to seismic marketing budget shifts in the name of transparency.
In this, our first paper in a series on the evolving field of Brand Safety, we will seek to create a common definition for the term Brand Safety and point to the next phases of research and discussion that will follow over the rest of the series.