Embedding a brand into a consumer’s mind to associate it as a product they want to purchase, begins much earlier than you may expect. It’s claimed Mercedes-Benz has a purchasing funnel which spans 20 years, implying that a lot of work goes into the awareness phase prior to that all important ‘click for a test drive’ metric! With this in mind, it’s down to the buyers of media to carefully execute campaign strategies without damaging a brand’s reputation that has been built over time and with so much effort.
Brands have a responsibility to maintain consumer trust, and a large part of that responsibility rests on the shoulders of programmatic teams. Programmatic is arguably the most efficient strategy on a marketing plan as it does a lot of the heavy lifting with regards to driving performance and maximizing return on media investment – as well as targeting the most relevant audiences at the right time. Ensuring ad budgets are being spent in the most efficient way is one of the outcomes programmatic teams are tasked with. On top of that, they work diligently to ensure media placements do not appear in unscrupulous places that could cause damage to a brand’s reputation.
Programmatic teams work to protect a brand’s equity by using a variety of strategies. Keyword avoidance is one method in their arsenal to ensure a brand is not appearing against any unsuitable or reputation damaging content. It sounds logical; add as many potentially non-brand-safe keywords as possible to an exclusion list to ensure the ad isn’t appearing on any offending sites and apps. But being overzealous can limit the scale of a media buy to potentially ideal audiences.
Let’s use Mercedes-Benz as an example again. Let’s assume they don’t want to appear on an online news story whereby a Mercedes crashed into another car; thus ‘Mercedes’ and ‘crash’ would be two keywords likely to be added to an exclusion list. Now that these words are added, teams know the Mercedes ad will not serve on any content featuring ‘Mercedes’ and ‘crash’. However, what if that ‘avoided’ Mercedes was driven on a Formula 1 racing track, where a crash occurred in the same race where Lewis Hamilton won a race driving his Mercedes?
Consider how such a broad keyword strategy would impact the 20-year brand awareness phase that Mercedes has mapped out in the consumer journey. People of all ages watch the Grand Prix; every time Lewis Hamilton wins a race, the qualities of performance and winning are associated with Mercedes. The goal is to get potential current and future auto purchasers to aspire to own a Mercedes. As youngsters watch Lewis Hamilton win races they associate Mercedes with aspiration, this is where the brand starts building that trust with their future consumers.
So, if the keywords ‘Mercedes’ and ‘crash’ are part of the executed brand safety strategy, all sports section articles featuring content about Lewis Hamilton driving his Mercedes to victory in a race where a crash took place, would be eliminated. An action that would deprive Mercedes of the opportunity to reach a key target audience with an ad that would reinforce the brand and its message. Additionally, it means premium publishers are missing out on ad revenue- even this blog post would get blocked!
This example illustrates why it’s important to include contextual relevance and a granular methodology when implementing brand safety protection on programmatic campaigns. Bundling keywords will limit scale on both sides of the buy and potentially affect performance KPIs that teams work so hard to hit.
DoubleVerify’s technology goes far beyond the use of keywords to shield from inappropriate content. DV’s ontological machine-learning combined with human classification identifies concepts and themes from words on a page and categorizes them. These categories are then easily accessible to programmatic teams to choose within the DSPs, as well as within DoubleVerify’s UI.
This methodology ensures brands are not missing out on advertising against perfectly suitable content – such as Lewis Hamilton winning a race in his Mercedes, but does keep them from appearing against brand damaging content. The takeaway: you don’t need thousands of keywords, you do need a verification partner with an efficient and accurate semantic classification methodology.
This approach can be utilised both before and after the buy, or ‘pre’ and ‘post’ bid. Some agencies buy on behalf of brands who don’t have any post-bid blocking partners in place, rather they rely on all brand safety measures to be set-up before the bid (pre-bid) to protect them. Typically, relying solely on pre-bid protection limits quantifiable reporting data that would otherwise be available once the impressions have been bought, this is because we are avoiding bidding on it in the first instance. Some call this ‘pre- bid blocking’, DV call this ‘avoidance’. And, depending on what DSP they’re using, it can provide fewer elements of protection an advertiser would have than if they were utilising both pre- and post-bid.
However, if using DoubleVerify’s Authentic Brand Safety targeting solution, clients can still use all features of what is available post-bid, even if they haven’t wrapped their ad tags for blocking, to protect themselves pre-bid. Settings available include over 75 brand safety avoidance categories, inclusion and exclusion lists, keywords to catch breaking news at the URL level, enhanced mobile in-app controls, the list goes on. Better yet, an advertiser can align and automate their settings both pre- and post-bid for maximum protection, and get the analytics, all from one central UI.
The beauty of programmatic is that it automates so many of the complexities of media buying and audience targeting – and we’re lucky it does a lot of the heavy lifting. But it still needs humans to make common sense decisions, and tools like DoubleVerify’s Authentic Brand Safety targeting solution can help ease that (traditionally) manual process, while protecting brands and unlocking scale.
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.