The current health crisis is an unprecedented event that has shaken the world. Advertisers are adapting to conditions colored by economic uncertainty, and are adjusting strategies holistically – including their approach to brand safety. News publishers are playing a critical role in keeping the public informed with trustworthy, timely information, but with so much share of voice allotted to COVID-19-related content, they are justifiably concerned about content monetization.

Last week, DoubleVerify took part in IAB’s “News Saves Lives” Virtual Town Hall. The 90-minute session brought together the entire ecosystem—brands, agencies, publishers and technology partners—to discuss how to thread the news/brand safety needle. This session took this issue straight on, and provided the latest research on changing news consumption behavior, industry trends and practical examples of how people are responding.

During the session, one of the key questions posed by the IAB was: “How can brands do the right thing by news publishers while also protecting their brand equity?” DoubleVerify’s CMO, Dan Slivjanovski, took the virtual stage to talk about how DV responded following the pandemic, and outlined the guidance, education and resources DV provided clients to help them adapt. Three key recommendations DV asked brands to consider included:

  • Exempting trusted news publishers from category avoidance.
  • Reviewing and honing keyword blacklists, and removing trusted news providers from coronavirus-related blocklists.
  • Adding trusted news site home pages and section home pages to exception lists.

DV worked closely with clients to discuss and implement suggested changes. One such client was McKinney/Crocs. McKinney’s Executive Director of Media, Swapnil Patel, shared how Crocs, a globally recognized brand, pivoted its campaign’s creative strategy, and adopted DV’s recommendations to expand reach without compromising protection.

After initially experiencing higher-than-average block rates, the McKinney team took a new approach. “In mid-March, we refined our keyword list to loosen restrictions. We chose to only avoid content specifically related to Crocs and coronavirus, and death and coronavirus. We also applied page level exceptions, which broadened inventory availability. For example, rather than avoiding Yahoo! all together, we cleared running in/around content like ‘Celebs are coupling up amid the coronavirus pandemic’ on the Yahoo! Entertainment page,” says Patel. As a result of these changes, Crocs was able to reinvest 30% of campaign spend into qualifying impressions.

In addition to adjusting its brand safety strategy, Crocs was one of the first companies to show its support for healthcare workers, donating over 450K+ pairs of shoes to doctors, nurses and first-responders.

Crocs wasn’t the only brand that pivoted its strategy. DV shared data about how outreach efforts and client adjustments to brand safety settings helped reduce overall block rates across news publishers. According to Slivjanovski, “we’ve seen a steady decline as the brands we serve have used their brand suitability toolkit to refine settings and balance protection with reach across trusted news publishers.”

Access the recording of the event on IAB’s website.

Looking to understand more about brand safety and how you can support trusted news? Contact us.

The views expressed in this post are that of the individual making them, and not necessarily of DoubleVerify. In addition, all links to non-DoubleVerify websites are the property of their respective owners and DoubleVerify assumes no responsibility for the content therein.

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