There’s little doubt that political rhetoric in the US and around the world has grown louder in recent times, and certainly more polarized (see a recent Washington Post article “Mainstream advertising is still showing up on polarizing and misleading sites — despite efforts to stop it”). The result is that that news cycle content often skews negative – from the Khashoggi murder to Brexit to vitriolic personal attacks on politicians on both sides of the aisle. Not surprisingly, many brands have a strong desire to avoid this type of inflammatory political content. This is especially germane now, as we speed toward a contentious mid-term election season.


What can you do to ensure your brand and campaigns don’t get caught in the crossfire?


1. Keywords Alone are Not Enough. Building keyword lists is a common tactic and undoubtedly should be part of a brand’s protection strategy. Keywords, however, are largely point-in-time. One lesson we learned from the 2016 election is that the news cycle is almost impossible to predict, and the issues that draw attention are constantly evolving. This is where technology comes into play. DV classifies sites and pages within minutes of first impression delivery, keeping pace with dynamic news cycles. In addition, DV employs ontological machine learning in its brand safety categorizations, expanding the model to include synonyms, associated concepts and themes, and automatically adding new, related terms to our category models (such as automatically adding new politicians or new controversies to the Politics category). This type of smart learning technology is critical protection in today’s rapidly changing news cycle.


2. Use a Scalpel, Not a Sledgehammer. To ensure protection, some brands will block all news sites. If you cast a wide net, you’ll catch the bad with the good, but at least you can ensure protection – right? This is certainly one strategy but, as most media buyers know, news sites often contain an array of content – much of it positively aligned with their brand, so a brand may be missing legitimate opportunities to reach a qualified audience at scale without being compromised by the context. That’s why it’s so important to be able to control brand safety at the page level. At DV, we facilitate this type of page-level blocking with detailed categories that cover things like Terrorist Events or Politics more specifically.


3. More Than Just Fake News. In 2016, following the most recent US presidential election, DV recognized the need to develop a brand safety category (one of over 75) that focuses specifically on identifying Inflammatory News and Political sites. We chose to address the issue at a holistic level, looking at both the sites associated with fake news and the inflammatory rhetoric that accompanies these stories. For fake news we look at a mixture of items – we review the language used in the story for exaggerated content and also research the site using other third-party tools, external lists, and well-known debunked stories. We believe this is more complex than just a binary decision about individual stories, which is why DV focuses on the entire site and considers both the association with fake news and inflammatory rhetoric often prevalent in today’s political discourse.


4. Avoid, Block, Monitor, Repeat. Protecting your brand throughout the media buying process is critical for success. Aligning the settings you’ve established for post-bid protection with your pre-bid programmatic targeting strategy can be a challenge. That is why DV recently launched our Authentic Brand Safety targeting solution for programmatic buyers. With Authentic Brand Safety targeting, advertisers can now deploy a single set of brand safety controls across multiple programmatic buying platforms that align with your post-bid blocking criteria. Authentic Brand Safety targeting, coupled with our post-bid Impression Quality solutions for monitoring and blocking, enables you to consistently apply brand safety parameters throughout the media transaction, offering secure brand protection and substantial gains in both operating efficiency and campaign performance.


Don’t let contentious news cycles deter you from meeting your campaign goals. Employ cutting edge pre- and post-bid strategies to reach quality audiences in brand safe environments – irrespective of political climate.


Want to learn more about DV’s services? Contact your DV account manager or


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