With the initiation of the worldwide lockdown, digital campaigns have gained unprecedented importance in the marketing mix for most brands. While brands are pumping money into digital to get the best reach and conversions from their campaigns, a lot of metrics have also emerged that need to be kept in mind — with brand safety and audience engagement taking precedence over others.
Brand Safety and Suitability refer to measures taken to protect the reputation of a brand by ensuring its advertisements are not placed on unsavory websites, articles, posts, videos, or apps. The role of AdTech platforms becomes very crucial in this case as they need to offer assurance and control to digital marketers to guarantee brand safety.
Audience Engagement is the deliberate strategy of turning passive users into active users who participate and engage with the brand’s website or content. It is also a metric to measure how interested your audience is in the brand’s content and how much they take part in the content through reading, commenting, or sharing.
To get an in-depth understanding of how brands can ensure brand safety and reduce ad fraud, NachiketDeole, Head of Sales at Double Verify, joined Pankaj Sharma, Country Head, MGID India, in a candid conversation. Here are some excerpts from their discussion on this topic.
Pankaj Sharma: We see so many companies and brands coming up with their websites and using e-commerce channels. How is the journey of digital media emerging as we see a clear migration from standard ad banners to rich media, and now the increase in demand for innovations?
Nachiket Deole: The digital media industry has seen more changes than any other media in such a short span of time. There is a constant need to adapt, evolve, and learn as trends change and new things are discovered. We are now moving towards a cookie-less world and everyone (i.e., brands, publishers as well as AdTech platforms) will have to grapple with the changes that this elimination will bring. Having said that, I believe that this trend of adaptation and change will continue across the digital media as brands will find more engaging ways to connect with the buyers. New technology, platforms, and innovative ad formats will keep emerging as everyone in the industry will look to grab a bigger share of the revenue pie.
Pankaj Sharma: What would you like to say about the evolution of brand safety in India?
Nachiket Deole: Initially, there was little need to be concerned about brand safety because there were limited digital channels to engage or approach consumers. Cut to 2021, and with the evolving news cycle, there are now more occurrences of hate speech, inflammatory politics, and other potentially unsafe content appearing on sites. When a brand wants to advertise, there is a higher risk that their ads might appear alongside this unsavory content, which compromises their brand reputation. In fact, when DV did a survey with Harris Poll, two-thirds of users mentioned that if they see a brand next to a non-brand safe content or inappropriate content, they will never buy the product.
We recommend brands look at a few different aspects when considering brand safety and suitability strategies. One is content classification, where brands review the content, they want to avoid. The second strategy would be to look beyond broad keyword blocklists and to identify specific keywords that a brand would want to include or avoid.
Pankaj Sharma: This year alone digital ad fraud is going to cost publishers and advertisers $6.3 Bn and, according to recent reports by Mobile Marketing Association, marketers are losing almost 20% of their digital advertising budget to ad fraud. How can brands reduce ad fraud and increase viewability?
Nachiket Deole: I think it goes without saying that your ad must be seen by a real human. The problem with digital ad fraud is that fraud follows where the money goes, and there is a lot of money to be had in digital advertising. In fact, as per the latest report by GroupM, digital advertising spend is expected to be at INR 27,700 crore, 28% higher than last year.
In order to tackle this situation head-on, we need to build accountability within the system and set standards that need to be met in every campaign. Advertisers should work with trusted ad verification companies who have access to technology that protects their brand from ad fraud across all platforms. To be able to accomplish this, brands need to look at investments into brand safety holistically and not in isolation.
Pankaj Sharma: How can brands embark on their journey from brand safety to brand suitability?
Nachiket Deole: As mentioned earlier, brand safety and suitability are both very important in today’s time and age. Consumers hold the brand responsible if their ads appear next to inflammatory content or any type of content promoting hate speech. The brand safety and suitability strategy need to be very agile to keep up with the evolving trends and unpredictability of online content, and advertisers should strike the right balance by working with trusted ad verification providers like Double Verify that allows them to take a nuanced approach towards brand safety and suitability.
Programmatic buying is another space where transparency is a big concern. Working with a trusted third-party ad verification partner who works with the brand’s DSP can really help scale up the quality of impressions and provide advertisers ease of mind about their ad appearing next to unsavory content. From a publisher’s point of view, the use of a robust ad verification tool is a must to ensure that their platform adheres to brand safety norms for advertisers. This also gives the advertisers confidence in the publishers since this brings in a lot of transparency for both parties. This is the mission that DoubleVerify serves – to make the digital advertising ecosystem stronger, safer, and more secure. We help brands improve the effectiveness of their online advertising, giving them confidence and clarity in their digital investment.
Nachiket brings to the table 15+ years of experience in digital marketing and ad-tech, across vendors, agencies, and publishers. As a Head of Sales at DoubleVerify, he is responsible for driving the adoption of DoubleVerify’s ad verification solutions across programmatic, social, and traditional digital media.