As many of us have become accustomed to after opening our news and social feeds on a daily basis, today’s digital content landscape can be a bit of a minefield. Often fraught with polarizing content or misinformation, it’s vital that advertisers have the proper brand safety guardrails in place to protect their ads from potentially brand-damaging environments. Research from DoubleVerify (DV) and Harris poll found that nearly 90% of consumers feel that brands bear responsibility for ensuring their ads run beside content that is safe, and two-thirds (65%) of consumers would be likely to stop using the brand or product if they viewed the brand’s digital advertising beside false, objectionable, or inflammatory content.

The best way to protect your reputation and media investment is to avoid bidding on inventory that doesn’t align with your brand’s safety and suitability guidelines. At DV, we always recommend our proven solution, DV Authentic Brand Suitability, which helps brands avoid the riskiest content and manage suitability settings using functionality that aligns with the APB/GARM standards.

However, we often hear from advertisers who believe they can avoid unsuitable content altogether by bidding on exclusive private marketplace (PMP) inventory, which includes access to high-caliber publisher content that typically seems safe and suitable at first glance. According to eMarketer, PMP deals will account for the majority of programmatic spend by this year. And while PMPs are generally recommended as a way to reach audiences in quality digital environments, some of the content may not necessarily be suitable for your brand. That’s why we still recommend leveraging Authentic Brand Suitability as a way to ensure brand alignment at scale — even in PMP transactions.


Authentic Brand Suitability Reduces Violation Rates By 40%

Across the DV network, when looking at programmatic partners without Authentic Brand Suitability enabled, we measured a post-bid brand suitability violation rate of 11% in PMP  transactions. This is 22% higher than post-bid brand suitability violation rates in open marketplace transactions when looking at the same programmatic partners. This illustrates that regardless of where inventory is transacted, private or open marketplace, there is an opportunity for brand safety violations and media waste.

However, like any programmatic exchange, these violations can be significantly reduced by applying Authentic Brand Suitability. When performing the same analysis across a sample of DV traffic on media properties where Authentic Brand Suitability is available, we found that violation rates in PMPs were 40% lower.

Modify Your ABS Settings to Balance Scale and Protection

To ensure quality, while maintaining scale, we recommend building a less restrictive version of your open marketplace brand safety and suitability profile for use in PMP transactions. Here are some profile modifications we commonly see clients implementing to balance scale and protection for PMPs:

1. Allow Unknown Pages and Sites

‘Unknown’ pages and sites can significantly impact scale on campaigns. While this is a recommended feature to reduce blocking where activity can’t be identified pre-bid, it may cause restrictions with niche targeting. Allowing unknown activity on PMP transactions can be a quick fix if the targeted activity is blinded or incomplete in the action.


2. Create Exception Lists in Your ABS Profile

A quick win for programmatic deals can be the use of exception lists in the Authentic Brand Suitability profile. These are sites or content you definitely intend to advertise on. “Site exceptions” will allow an entire domain to serve regardless of the content classifications which may be flagged, and “app exceptions” will allow an entire CTV or mobile app to serve regardless of the content classifications. There is also the option for “page exceptions,” which allow a specific page to serve regardless of the content classifications. This is especially useful for homepages or sections pages that have aggregated content which can flag for many categories.


3. Review Your Keywords Regularly

Keyword blocking gives advertisers the ability to block specific keywords or phrases that they designate within a URL. Although keyword blocking can serve as a useful brand suitability tool for emerging news events, it may result in unintended blocking and does not always provide coverage that is as comprehensive and nuanced as that provided by our avoidance categories.

When activating and reviewing keywords, advertisers should consider specific topics, rather than broad topic areas. For example, including a broad word like “riot” would likely result in overblocking because it would cover all instances of the word riot, including phrases such as, “it’s a laugh riot!” or “riot grrrl.” A more specific phrase, such as “Capitol Riot,” limits the incremental rate-of-avoidance.

In addition to these profile setting modifications, we also suggest that clients transacting programmatically implement DV’s Programmatic Analytics for robust programmatic reporting, from auction to delivery. Using Programmatic Analytics allows you to monitor and understand the impact of pre-bid settings on post-bid delivery. For example, using Programmatic Analytics you could identify sites or pages with high brand suitability violation rates, potentially uncovering non-transparent inventory preventing efficient pre-bid avoidance, and add them to your ABS profile block list to reduce blocking and wasted ad spend.


Get Started with Authentic Brand Suitability

Download our Authentic Brand Suitability guide or contact us if you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage DV’s Authentic Brand Suitability solution to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns on either open market or PMP transactions.