Shaping the Future of Advertising: Insights from the POSSIBLE Conference's Brand Safety Panel

Posted by Brand Safety Institute • Apr 29, 2024 4:08:36 PM

On April 15, BSI kicked off the POSSIBLE conference in Miami with a pivotal breakfast panel that brought together industry professionals to discuss the evolving challenges and opportunities in brand safety. The session featured GumGum President Michelle Hulst and our COO AJ Brown, and was moderated by industry titan Lou Paskalis. Their conversation drew a diverse audience of roughly 40 people representing platforms, agencies, ad tech, and brand marketers.

During the session, Hulst showcased GumGum’s advanced contextual capabilities for content classification in the programmatic space. This technology allows for granular content assessment to prevent overblocking and ensures that advertising dollars support deserving publishers.

“We have to evolve past status-quo brand safety tactics like blunt keyword blocking because they’re inefficient and affect the ability of publishers, especially news publishers, to monetize their content,” Hulst said. “There are alternative brand safety solutions like advanced contextual that are significantly more accurate in identifying threats and suitable environments, and better at connecting brands to their customers in the right moments, based on what mindset they are in, not who they are.”

The panel unanimously advocated for a move towards advanced contextual targeting in advertising. As regulations continue to evolve and with the ongoing slow death of the cookie, focusing on how ads can enhance a user’s current activity without relying on invasive personal data is becoming increasingly crucial. The message was clear: advertising should be relevant and unobtrusive, not creepy.

Panelists also grappled with the difficulties in quantifying the value of brand safety work, particularly in planning and budget conversations. “At face value, brand safety is often viewed as a cost center that restricts business growth,” Brown said. “There are a handful of industry anecdotes that showcase just how bad things can get when brand safety is compromised, but it’s difficult to quantify ongoing value added or risk avoided during business as usual. We usually need to fail in order to know the value of success, and we need to flip that paradigm.” The panelists suggested framing brand safety as a fundamental underpinning of ad relevance efforts, where the brand lift associated with resonant contexts can more easily be quantified.

During audience Q&A, a discussion emerged on the difficulties in interpreting current industry frameworks, particularly how broad language begets broad interpretations that can negatively impact quality journalism and diverse communities. BSI is actively working to drive clarity for those seeking to operationalize these industry frameworks responsibly, including through our recently launched Brand Safety & Suitability Bootcamp in partnership with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM).

Looking forward, BSI is excited to keep these important conversations going. We’ll be participating in a GARM Masterclass at the World Federation of Advertisers' Global Marketer Week in May, and are finalizing our plans for Cannes in June. These events will provide further opportunities to discuss and promote brand safety as a foundational element of effective advertising strategies. Our session in Miami also laid the foundation for a full-fledged Brand Safety track at POSSIBLE in 2025.

The engagement and positive feedback from the audience at POSSIBLE were both validating and inspiring, affirming the importance of our industry’s ongoing efforts in brand safety. We are committed to leading the charge in cultivating a community of brand safety practitioners that will make advertising safer, more relevant, and more effective across all facets of the industry.

Topics: Brand Safety, GARM, Events, AJ Brown, Bootcamp