How to Keep Your Brand Safe

From Procter & Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard’s takedown of the “crappy (digital) media supply chain,” to the string of adver­tiser boycotts of Google and YouTube, brand safety and ad fraud were among the hottest marketing topics of 2017. Just a few months ago, BuzzFeed uncovered a new scheme that allegedly used fraudu­lent ad traffic to steal millions of digital ad dollars from P&G, Unilever, Hershey’s and Johnson & Johnson, among others. It was yet another reminder that despite the many benefits of programmatic adver­tising, marketers can suffer serious consequences if their campaigns are mismanaged. In the fourth of our six-part thought-leadership series by Crisp, a Quotient company, we share how brands can address this complex problem.

Most mobile shopper campaigns involve programmatic ad buys – an efficient way to reach a large audience through proven tactics such as geo-targeting shoppers near a specific retailer’s store locations.

When conducting campaigns on such a large scale – involving thousands of websites and apps – however, the odds increase that your ad will appear in places you don’t want. To combat this, many marketers increase the practice of “whitelisting” pre-approved publishers and websites, or to layer their ad delivery system to filter unwanted content. Yet whitelisting isn’t perfect; it can limit audience delivery and targeting ability – missing people you do want to reach – to the detriment of campaign ROI.

“It is a question of balancing brand safety concerns with the marketer’s goals for KPIs,” says Joe Riley, Vice President of Client Services at Crisp. “Maintaining a positive brand affinity is critical, but at the end of the day, shopper marketers have to drive store traffic and gener­ate sales.”

Jim Selden, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Crisp, adds, “For ad viewability and ad fraud specifically, these factors must be monitored for reasons of understand­ing real costs and to prevent outright scamming. But if your KPI is store product sales, and you’re winning there, you can assume that a lot of people have seen your ads. Brand safety is always a concern, no matter how much revenue you generate, but if it comes at the expense of ROI, you’re back to square one.”

The Role of Technology

When considering using technology to protect your brand, consider the following:

  • Limits of third-party tools – Marketers often turn to third-party technology companies to help protect their brands. But there are limits to tools such as the widely employed JavaS­cript tags from companies like Double Verify, Moat and Integral Ad Science. Riley says measurement of ad viewability in a mobile app only works properly with apps that have downloaded the SDK (software development kit) from a measurement vendor. “Since many apps do not do this, the results will be inaccurate, and unless you are aware of this, you will get a false reading on your campaigns,” he says. “Viewability measurement in mobile web environments, on the other hand, is far more accurate.”
  • Solution effectiveness depends on environment – Technical solutions are often more effective in a display ad en­vironment than a video-content environment because it is easier to do text analysis than it is to filter objectionable content in data-rich videos. “Marketers should not be tempted to think of technology as a panacea for all problems,” says Xavier Facon, Chief Technical Officer at Crisp. “Just because a solution is successful in a desktop environ­ment, that doesn’t always mean it will work for a mobile campaign.”
  • Targeting methods matter – Targeting a shopper based on his or her demographic or purchasing behavior is an effective strategy, but it doesn’t do anything to miti­gate brand risk. Contextual targeting, however, can both improve performance and help avoid objectionable content. For example, a CPG brand that advertises a food product can use recipes, cooking and coupon content as a benefi­cial context for advertising while also steering a campaign away from risky content. “It is possible to choose sites via a contextual classification and still achieve a decent amount of scale and also not run into as many brand safety problems,” notes Facon.


For all of these reasons, Crisp urges clients to adopt a balanced and diversified approach to brand safety — one that includes strategic planning, campaign optimization and human oversight of technical solutions. “Marketers should understand the methodologies that their vendors are using and focus on process and management,” says Facon, adding that Crisp handles planning, services and a pre- and post-launch quality assessment. “We have a sophis­ticated ad operation to support our expertise in developing and executing mobile campaigns.”

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And check out the rest of the series:


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