In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, consumers seek more than just products and services — they want meaningful connections and experiences with brands they support and trust. Values-based marketing goes beyond traditional advertising strategies and enables brands to showcase their values through their marketing and advertising strategies.
A digital marketing strategy that embraces diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) should consider how brands’ media buying strategies support minority-owned publications and networks while prioritizing brand safety and suitability. Ad verification partners have a unique opportunity to help brands connect with customers, maximize reach and ensure brand safety and suitability. Publishers can equally benefit from adopting best practices to better align with advertiser needs.
Below, we’ll dive into the characteristics of values-based marketing and explore practical steps advertisers can take to support diverse publishers and grow scale while maintaining protection from unsafe and unsuitable content.
What is values-based marketing, and why is it important?
A company’s mission and vision are critical to a values-based marketing strategy, which is a marketing strategy that appeals to consumer values and ethics and often expresses a brand’s values as part of a marketing message.
While traditional marketing primarily focuses on highlighting the features of a company’s products and services, a values-based marketing approach focuses on strengthening brand equity and creating positive connections that contribute toward lasting relationships with a target market.
Modern consumers seek authentic connections with brands that actively make a positive impact on society and the environment:
- One study of 8,000 consumers in 2020 across North America, EMEA and APAC found that consumers are four times more likely to purchase from a company with a strong and clear purpose and four-and-half times more likely to recommend these brands.
- Eighty-two percent of consumers want a brand’s values to align with their values, according to a 2022 Google Cloud/Harris Poll survey.
- And another Google Cloud/Harris Poll survey of nearly 1500 executives across 16 countries found that environmental and social initiatives are top organizational priorities.
Whether supporting DEIB or helping the environment, a values-based marketing strategy requires brands to align their actions with the company values they are promoting. Some brands, for example, make pledges — like promising to plant a tree or donate a pair of shoes to someone in need — every time a customer makes a purchase. Others guarantee that their end-to-end supply chain is sustainable.
Balancing scale and protection: Why brand suitability is a key component of values-based marketing
Aligning content and brand values is critical to any values-based marketing strategy. Just as it’s important for brands to avoid content that does not align with their values, it’s equally important to consider what does align to maximize scale and reach audiences across a diverse array of content.
Brand safety and suitability infractions can have serious consequences. More than one-third of consumers say they would stop using their favorite brand over misaligned values, and another quarter would temporarily stop using the brand, according to Google/Harris Poll results.
Recent DV findings support this and show that consumers especially take disinformation and misinformation seriously; sixty-one percent say they would be less likely to purchase from a brand that ran beside disinformation.
There are several ways advertisers can avoid unsuitable content without overblocking. In 2021, DV introduced Brand Suitability Tiers, which groups content based on risk threshold and aligns with industry standards. Another way to reduce overblocking is to work directly with publishers and help educate advertisers on best practices.
DoubleVerify (DV) and Group Black: A new partnership
Publishers that regularly speak to complex DEIB topics, or those who represent marginalized groups, can face brand suitability issues that sometimes affect their ability to monetize their inventory. As one way to address this challenge, DV teamed up with Group Black, one of the largest collectives of diverse owned media that accelerates inclusive spending by brands through innovative solutions.
DV worked directly with Group Black to better understand how underrepresented publishers are affected by the brand suitability settings of their advertising partners and how DV could help them optimize brand safety and suitability to open up more inventory. Through a combination of optimization analysis, classification coverage, client advocacy and technical partnerships, DV and Group Black were able to mitigate some of the unintended consequences of our brand safety and suitability strategies.
As part of this process, DV guided optimization efforts with Group Black across a handful of select campaigns with DV advertiser clients. The results were immediate, opening up 14.8 percent more of Group Black’s overall inventory.
Verification best practices for advertisers to support a values-based marketing strategy
DV supports a number of best practices in values-based marketing to help advertiser clients maximize reach and ensure brand safety while supporting content that is aligned with their values. This may mean adjusting approaches depending on the campaign or audience. A nuanced, sophisticated brand suitability tool kit helps marketers remain flexible and make adjustments as needed.
Here are some of the ways brands are implementing their brand suitability settings with a values-based marketing strategy in mind:
1. Leverage suitability categories.
Policy-driven suitability categories offer protection against a wide range of content types and topics without requiring regular maintenance or unintentionally limiting reach. Being policy-driven means that DV is able to mitigate bias and optimize for consistent coverage with broadly scaled classification.
Instead of relying on keyword blocking, leveraging categories provides more accurate and nuanced protection, especially as topics change over time. For example, Group Black asked DV to research usage of the keywords “Black lives” and “Obama” to better understand how using them might impact diverse publishers’ content. A November 2022 spot check showed that 28.6% of the words “Black lives” and “Obama” were classified solely within lifestyle and entertainment categories. Using content categories allows for dynamic protection and can help prevent overblocking on topics that at one point may have been political but, in this case, are now commonly used in lifestyle and entertainment contexts.
2. Evaluate and update keyword lists.
Advertisers can use keyword lists to provide protection against breaking news when content has not yet been classified. These block lists should be evaluated and updated regularly to ensure that entries aren’t unintentionally excluding content that a brand wants to support. As stories develop, a keyword may be largely associated with content a brand might want to avoid. Over time, keywords typically become less and less associated with that content and can become associated with content that a brand may consider suitable. This also includes looking for instances that can be better covered by a content category selection, avoiding overgeneralized terms and removing keywords related to outdated events.
3. Use page classifications whenever possible.
DV classifies content at the URL and page levels and allows clients to use whichever classification they prefer. Classifying content at the most granular level helps publishers unlock monetization potential while improving scale for advertisers, as was the case with Group Black.
By switching to page classification strategies, DV reduced blocked impressions caused by site classifications by 98.6 percent. These best practices and optimizations led to a noticeable monetization improvement for Group Black, while maximizing reach for their advertising clients. Brands may want to consider switching from site-level classifications to page-level classifications where possible.
4. Consider an exclusion and inclusion list strategy.
By using app and site exclusion lists, clients can prevent their media from appearing on specific apps, domains and subdomains that they may deem inappropriate regardless of how the individual pages/articles are classified. Brands can evaluate exclusion lists to ensure they aren’t eliminating publishers, sites and apps they trust or want to support. By using app and site inclusion lists, brands can proactively target content to only those apps and sites that they find acceptable.
5. Strategize with partners.
Each brand — and audience — has unique needs. There’s no universal approach to building the right brand suitability strategy. Implementing best practices in values-based marketing across digital marketing campaigns reinforces a company’s values to their consumers. It’s critical, therefore, that brands work with publishers and tech partners to ensure they’re balancing their values with brand protection while maintaining scale in their marketing approach.
Protect your transformative marketing strategy
Values-based marketing is a transformative approach that allows brands to connect with their target audience. In addition to communicating company values, values-based marketing positions brands to make positive changes to society and the environment. Ad verification is an integral piece of an effective values-based marketing strategy, and partners like Group Black will help pave the way for a strong future in the digital marketing landscape.
If you are a publisher network or other group interested in exploring a similar partnership to the one DV and Group Black now share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an advertiser and would like to learn more about how DV can help you build a brand safety and suitability strategy that reflects your brand’s values, please email email@example.com.