Video Monetization

How to Make Sure Your Website is a Brand Safe Video Advertising Environment

By Lisa Lacy | Jul 27, 2017


It’s no secret programmatic video advertising is powerful – or that the brands behind these videos want to ensure they end up on profitable yet reputable sites where ads are seen by target customers.

And while the rise of programmatic technology has helped automate ad placements, it’s not always a perfect science – look no further than brands like Kellogg’s and Warby Parker, which found themselves advertising on far-right sites like publisher Breitbart.

Meanwhile, players like Facebook, Google and Snapchat are making policy changes to fight fake news, which remains an issue long after the 2016 election.

According to Rich Sutton, chief revenue officer of media company Trusted Media Brands, this means marketers need brand safe environments now more than ever. In fact, 81% of respondents to a recent Trusted Media Brands survey said advertising in a brand safe environment is a high priority. At the same time, 71% said it’s difficult to ensure brand safe environments while buying programmatically on the open exchange.

So how do publishers ensure their website is a brand safe advertising environment with unbiased, family friendly, premium video content? Here are four tips to do just that:

1. Appeal to advertisers

Players on the sell-side should start by doing their part to give advertisers a premium environment where they want their video ads to run.

This means producing original video inventory around the stories your audience cares about, and publishing them video players on your highest traffic article pages. It also means implementing viewable video players on these pages that are floating or sticky, placing them above the fold, setting them to scroll-to-play or autoplay, and selling mid-roll inventory. These are just some of the premium features that attract high quality advertisers.

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2. Prioritize the customer experience

In addition, publishers should provide a quality user experience with original video content that is relevant to a particular audience – and ensure the content is properly formatted for every screen. Sites should also make certain there is always more content than ads on each page.

And don’t forget the buck stops here – creators of short-form video are storytellers who, like all journalists, should seek out all sides of the story and not sacrifice accuracy for speed. In other words, publishers shouldn’t outsource video content and simply hope they’ll get quality in return.

That’s not to say this is easy. Content creators must think critically about the topics they are covering while also convincing consumers to click without going too far and misleading them. It’s an incredibly delicate balance.

3. Perform due diligence

Trusted Media Brand’s Sutton said it’s ultimately up to publishers to vet the ads they say will appear in a brand safe environment. In other words, if a site wants to be brand safe, it should look at the ads already running to make sure there’s nothing objectionable – and to take steps to remove them if there is.

Publishers should also do everything they can to make sure their sites are not blacklisted by brands’ agency partners – which could also include establishing their own internal standards. In fact, ad agency PMG has a universal blacklist for all accounts and recommends marketers regularly review site list reports to see where their ads ran and verify these sites passed their established standards.

It’s helpful to look at vendors like Google and Peer 39, which have brand safety categories for targeting. This is particularly useful when it comes to more subjective categories like Google’s Sensitive Social Issues and Peer 39’s Safe from All Negative Content. Sites that are proactive in determining where they stand will be better positioned if conflict arises.

4. Work with a viewability partner

PMG also recommends that advertisers work with viewability partners like DoubleVerify or Integral Ad Science to verify where digital ads run. But these analytics companies offer products for publishers, too. And an analytics partner can help publishers maximize inventory yield and enhance brand safety while eliminating fraud.

For its part, Integral Ad Science says it analyzes brand risk at the page level based on variables like text, links and URLs, so, if nothing else, these are also good places for publishers to look themselves when analyzing content.

Lisa Lacy