The Brand Safety issue is a big subject in the media right now and doesn’t look like it’s going away soon. For brands and organisations, it’s a reputational nightmare. You make some entertaining and informative video content and suddenly you get calls asking why your video is linked to or surrounded by other content that is extremist, offensive, pornographic, or at its simplest just contrary to your own brand’s ethics and values. For example, you are a family brand selling healthy cereal and you find yourself linked with a very explicit lyrics and imagery from the band Cradle Of Filth, famous for their songs that are violent, sexist, and overtly sexual. That’s a PR disaster that is none of your doing but the problem is you are now in damage limitation mode.

Even something as simple as your automotive brand being linked with alcohol content is just a bad marriage.

The major villain of the piece as far as most brands are concerned is Google and their unenviable task of controlling the behemoth that is Youtube. In April, this year Google partnered with brand safety experts ComScore and other brand safety providers to get some independent reporting on brand ad campaigns. This is good news for marketing managers who will benefit from greater visibility into the context in which their video content is appearing. These independent reports will hopefully be transparent and trusted because of their independent nature. And its these kinds of partnerships that Google needs to amplify to reassure brands that their content is safe. Companies like Integral Ad Science, Double Verify, and Grape Shot can provide your brand with increased levels of safety and make sure your content is being seen in the best possible environments and away from denigrating influences.

In tandem with these new partnerships Google has expanded its advertising policy to go beyond just excluding hate speech. It will now ban advertising on a broader base. This new policy is called “dangerous or derogatory content”.

“Content that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalisation.”

Ref: Google Adwords Policy

Of course, Google may be one of the biggest players when it comes to content distribution but let’s not forget the other big game in town – Facebook. Facebook are also looking to appease brands and advertisers with new controls on brand safety. Steps like making its “block” process much easier. Facebook will also soon begin let advertisers better specify the types of placements they want their content to run beside – such as native, in-stream, or interstitial. And of course, one of the biggest criticisms that Facebook has had to deal with recently is the lack of transparency. the company in response to this negative feedback has upped its focus on viewability and transparency and renamed its blog Measurement FYI, which now includes more useful updates and advances on metrics, partnerships, new products and research.

Brand safety, viewability, transparency, ad-blocking and outright fraud are possibly the most important issues media buyers are facing today. The truth is that we are living in an increasingly complex advertising landscape. It’s not something your brand can ignore or hope won’t affect you. The secret is to plan your content and where it lands carefully with the right partners to ensure you are not victims of content misplacement. Thankfully it looks likes Google and Facebook are now giving brand safety the due attention it deserves. They are putting in place more ruthless and comprehensive policies and tools to deal with the problem. Tackling it swiftly if it still happens. And of course, the biggest weapon in the brand safety armoury is knowledge. Far too many brands, especially smaller ones, still fail to understand the issue correctly or know what to do about it when it happens.

Here at Toast we do our utmost to see that the content we create together is effective, impactful and is seen in the right environments.