The following is an excerpt from our “Putting video in context” report: 


The growth of video creation and consumption via social media channels has had a huge impact on many industries over the past year, notably media, politics and retail. The snowballing rate of content creation, particularly by consumers, has led to an unpredictable, unregulated and therefore risky environment for marketers trying to harness and steer conversations along their own agendas.


We’ve living a period of high sensitivity in terms of where advertisers’ ads are appearing, and online publishers need to work harder to prove their legitimacy. This sensitivity is understandable given the negative impact out-of context or interruptive advertising can have on brand perception.


Publishers have been pressured to ensure brand safety, which has become particularly important given the rise of programmatic trading within online video advertising. In the US, over 70% of online video ad dollars are transacted programmatically14, which has meant that publishers have had to forgo some of the control they once had over their inventory. This has highlighted the importance of the relationship publishers have with their supply-side platforms (SSPs) or ad exchanges, and necessitated a hyper-awareness of the ads running on their sites, and of where their inventory is being traded.


The only way to avoid all risk would be to abandon the long-tail approach to advertising by buying or selling every impression directly, severely limiting the inventory available for advertisers and revenues for publishers as a result. The way forward for the majority is therefore to adopt a risk-based approach, using technologies and initiatives quickly being developed by the industry to ensure brand safety.


Such initiatives include one from the IAB Tech Lab, called ads.txt, which signals the inventory as authorised by the publisher, protecting against counterfeit inventory and ensuring the validity of brand spend. Rapid uptake of ads. txt has been driven in part by the fact that, since November, Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager has stopped buying unauthorised supply paths, meaning that exchanges had to push their publishers to adopt the initiative.

ads.txt importance

Given the scale of the internet, it is obvious that not every website should deliver a brand’s message. Technology designed to ring-fence and validate ad placement is continually improving; all reputable ad networks and ad serving technologies have brand safety guidelines in place, and publishers like Google and Facebook now have large teams specifically tasked with monitoring inappropriate content.


A study by the CMO Council has found that a staggering 78% of marketers believe that the reputation of their brands has been negatively impacted by the ‘unintended’ placement of online ads next to inappropriate content.


Context is particularly important in the murky waters of brand safety and advancements are underway. Continual monitoring, coupled with the use of enhanced tools designed to keep brands safer, will help lift contextual advertising to new heights.


For advertisers that are particularly concerned with issues of brand safety, limiting contextual advertising to a trusted network of publishers, who often maintain editorial standards that limit the nature of sensitive content, can reduce the possibility of issues arising.


vi protect is a free tool that allows you to check domains for brand safety.

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