DV recently took part in Programmatic Pioneers APAC, the largest virtual gathering of digital advertising leaders from Asia’s top brands and agencies.

Our panel explored brand safety, ad verification and brand suitability practices amid a climate of increasingly controversial news and content. The panel also focused on how to adjust brand safety practices in a rapidly changing and often controversial news landscape.


Some key takeaways from the webinar include:


Securing Brand Safety in a Controversial News Landscape

DV’s Tallariti noted that the burgeoning programmatic advertising market continues to provide opportunities for brands and advertisers to reach their target audiences, with precision and scale. However, there are still risks from brand safety incidents, ad fraud and ensuring that brands run their digital ads on quality media sites.

Brands want to avoid ad placement next to overly negative news content, and technology is needed to exert control over their online advertising campaigns. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands introduced blanket bans on news content. “When COVID-19 hit there was this aggressive trend of news demonetisation because brands wanted to avoid the hard news at all costs, including misinformation,” said Colleen Ngo from Xaxis. “There was an over-use of avoidance technologies, and news is a huge part of the inventory mix.”

The panelists noted that brands should support quality and trusted premium news publishers and they must develop their own stance on where to advertise. Mitch Waters from The Trade Desk noted: “One of the worst parts of the pandemic was the rise of misinformation. There was definitely a period where people were assessing tools and techniques that enabled the brands to assess their own risk tolerance.”


How Programmatic Buying Enhances Control and Enables Brand Suitability

Brand safety has evolved over the past ten years and, with many brands getting more comfortable with investing in new formats, the concept of brand suitability has emerged, said Tallariti. That involves brands and technology partners setting new policies that take into account the advertiser’s risk tolerance. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced advertisers to look more closely at their content parameters, while ensuring they also reached target audiences. The huge volume of negative news, and the widening supply of media formats and channels have exacerbated this dynamic.

“Programmatic provides us with the power to see what messaging is working, and we are also doing more with less because budgets are reduced,” said Mitch Waters from The Trade Desk. “We need to ensure that every dollar spent is working, and we need to pivot quickly. There are now more channels than just display, so the scope of the narrative with the consumer has never been wider. The key is to give control back to advertisers.”

The control question is key to brand suitability, as advertisers seek to maximise their audience reach, while ensuring their ads don’t run adjacent to unsavoury content or misinformation.

“Brand suitability is evolving at Xaxis,” said Colleen Ngo. “We have been forced to be flexible this year. We are looking closely at the client’s brand suitability baselines and risk tolerance around certain keywords.” Ngo said some brands have more relaxed guidelines, such as brands in the health and wellness sectors, while banks and finance companies are likely to have strict keyword blocking policies. The key is to provide clients with a mix of digital advertising spending options, including curated private marketplace content and open web programmatic media buying opportunities.”


Navigating the Evolving News Cycle, Including Fake News and Misinformation

The rise of fake news and misinformation around the world presents an ongoing challenge for advertisers seeking to invest in trusted media. This has forced advertisers to look closely into their media placements, said Janet Leung from Publicis. Agencies are now focusing on advertiser strategies and undertake more scrutiny into the programmatic media plan.

“It is important to work closely with your agency to set your risk and brand safety levels, look at it constantly and don’t take a set and forget approach to publisher reports,” said Leung.

Advertisers also need to clean up their supply chain to ensure they are only funding trusted news publishers. “It is vital to support publishers, as they are facing lost revenues and lower CPM’s, and it’s important for advertisers to recognise that,” Ngo said.

Furthermore, advertisers should lean on technology to avoid fake news and conspiracy stories. This includes a mixture of inclusion and exclusion lists, and pre-bid technology. “The right messaging in a time of challenge can have a positive impact that enables you to sell products and improve brand equity,” Waters said.


Contact us to learn more about how DV can help your brand navigate today’s evolving digital ecosystem.