A good brand safety initiative needs to be a more comprehensive discussion of the brand’s needs and not be limited to the basic standards set by technology partners.

Brand safety challenges continued to make headlines in 2018, even though there is clearly an improved dialogue between brands, media owners and tech partners. The final word is, however, execution may not be as simple as it sounds. Predictably, till now, most brand safety efforts have been focused on single pointed solutions. Their objective was to block anything that has even remote potential to harm a brand. But while sweeping exclusions are understandable, they can defeat the objective by excluding valid inventory and missing opportunities to reach desired customer segments in premium spaces.

Today, brands have the opportunity to leverage customizable capabilities that tech partners can provide to their campaigns. This would start with understanding of the brands suitability. It is clearly the job of the technology partner to understand the brand’s needs. Solutions then can define the benefits of reaching people on particular publishers while explaining the potential risks. With that knowledge in place, brand managers can take a decision on where to draw the lines and how to have a partner help create custom whitelists of approved or blacklisted sites or apps.

To identify the best solutions for brand safety, digital media buying partners need to employ both technology and human experts to evaluate sites as they evolve and look at new ones as they gain popularity. So while technology providers may have the capability to review keywords on a page that is later revealed as dangerous post-bid, they should be able to block the ad from appearing to protect the brand.  That said, it is also imperative that the brand safety initiative should not be limited to the basic standards set by technology partners. Media buying partners should have their own standards to ensure their messages appear in the best environments for their brands and they need to also make sure every technology vendor they employ follows industry guidelines.