The media update team delves into the subject of AI’s role in brand safety.

Knowing what appears next to your brand 

Brands want their adverts to run next to content they are happy to be associated with. Traditional advertising has not posed much of a problem for brand safety, as brands select which programmes they want their advert to appear with. The publisher might also indicate what editorial content the brand’s advert will appear with, so the brand’s marketers can target a specific audience.

However, digital advertising is far more difficult to control from a brand safety point of view because ad placement is now in the hands of algorithms belonging to companies like Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook. Brands must know where their adverts are, and what content they appear next to. 

Placing your brand next to the correct content

The many places digital advertising allows adverts to be placed has led many marketers to use AI, which can place adverts faster and more efficiently on digital platforms. Programmatic ad buying is one such tool. It is the use of machines to buy and place adverts online.  

Unfortunately, adverts are sometimes bought and placed next to content that is highly inappropriate or very harmful to the brand. 

YouTube had to refund advertisers earlier this year due to paid adverts being placed next to illegal and extremist content. The adverts were originally placed by YouTube’s AI system. 

Using AI to place adverts may be faster and more efficient but using AI comes with risks. Brands must take the necessary steps to guarantee their safety on digital platforms.    

Thinking about the audience and the context where adverts appear

Forbes contributor Andrew Stephen talks about brand safety from the perspective of ‘adjacency’.

Stephen is referring to the context in which our ads appear. “Sometimes this is subtle, but in the last year we have seen consumers threatening to boycott brands that place ads on certain publishers’ sites”.

Stephen says audiences, the target consumers, are important. What is also important is adjacency. “Not only because of concerns surrounding brand safety, but also since [there] are likely to be benefits to brands that align themselves with the right content in the right types of publishers at the right times.”

Stephen suggests three points for marketers to think about when placing adverts next to digital content:
  • Focus on audience and adjacency;
  • Work with a trusted publisher network; and
  • Know the risks, accept them, or try to mitigate risk when placing adverts adjacent to user-generated content. 
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Algorithms play an increasingly important role in our world. What are they and how do they work? Read more in our article, Why algorithms matter.