Brand safety should be a continuing conversation with ad clients

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


It’s clear digital advertisers in 2023 have become much more concerned about the delivery of ads to the appropriate audiences, even when they sit alongside the rise of (sometimes blind) programmatic media buying.

Advertisers should only be investing where digital advertising has a real opportunity to be seen — by a human not a bot, reaching the specified target audience, with the correct data regulations in place, and in a relevant, trusted editorial environment. All of which we can provide. And we should promote and shout about this from the rooftops.

Advertisers should be assured their content is viewed by a specific target audience in a trusted environment.
Advertisers should be assured their content is viewed by a specific target audience in a trusted environment.

But it’s important to note that neither quality nor premium in any way guarantees brand safety.

Brand safety is, essentially, the system of protecting a brand’s reputation whilst keeping it from popping up in “unsafe” environments. It’s about aligning the advertiser’s brand with positive, authoritative, other well-positioned brands and non-controversial arenas. Poor brand alignment risks alienating and losing customers. It’s all about protecting the brand from harm. 

For example, in simple terms, a display ad for a family-friendly brand should not be shown on a Web site that contains adult content.

Elements of brand safety

Delivering brand safety involves all the many elements of digital quality (e.g., ad fraud and blocking, contextually placing, and viewability/engagement) plus data protection (for both our ad clients and the end user), plus using relevant, powerful technology, and buying model choices.

Any suggested strategy to advertisers then must include us looking at the quality of our own media environments.

So, how do we ensure brand safety?

A checklist you might want to adopt in your sales teams could include the encouragement of advertisers to work only with trusted publishers (us!) who would adopt regulatory rules and standards as part of their fabric to ensure their content is safe for their brand.

We in turn should promote our monitoring of ad placements regularly to make sure they are meeting our (and our advertisers’) brand safety standards and expectations.

Brand safety as a unique selling point?

I am sure many people would agree advertisers work in a “foggy” world where much is unclear and in which we, as publishers (the creators of valued, professional content), are still working out how to play our publisher/agency/advertiser relationships wisely in 2023 to mutual advantage. But brand safety considerations, and proactive conversations about them, can be a tremendously powerful USP (unique selling point) for us in securing budgets and being a fully trusted source for said advertisers.

It’s an ongoing debate.

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About Mark Challinor

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