Paul Nasse
Paul Nasse 3 June 2022

Navigating Brand Safety on Social

UK consumers are spending more time on social media than ever before. The recent IAS Social Ad Receptivity study reveals that one in four consumers spend more than five hours a day on social media. Facebook tops the popularity rankings, with 83% of respondents confirming they have an account, with YouTube coming in a close second.

But newer video-based platforms such as TikTok have emerged from the pandemic on the strongest footing, having recently passed one billion users globally.
While this growth is great news for digital advertisers, there are some caveats.

The text, audio and video content these platforms are built around is dynamic, often highlighting brand safety concerns. And with video advertising currently the top advertising format purchased programmatically according to IAS research, ensuring sufficient brand protection while maximising the potential of social media is a top priority for advertisers.

Effectively, advertisers need trust, transparency and confidence in their social media spend. 

The Focus on Brand Reputation

For advertisers, platforms such as TikTok offer access to a vibrant, young user base with significant buying power that is highly engaged. TikTok’s algorithm breaks down the traditional ‘bubbles’ of groups and friends, meaning brands can scale awareness for a new product quickly and effectively, while streamers on platforms gather large, loyal followings.

But these emerging platforms, as well as the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, can prove hard for advertisers to navigate. Therefore, in order to thrive on these platforms while maintaining brand reputation, staying safe is a must.

According to IAS’s social study, over half (55%) of UK customers are unlikely to purchase a product or service advertised next to unsafe content on social feeds, while 35% will form an unfavourable view of a brand whose ad appears next to content that does not align with the brand’s image.

Holistic Measurements

Though the opportunities are there for companies willing to maximise these new frontiers, it is clear that some caution is needed. The task of making these spaces safer for brands should be a key priority for the whole industry, and therefore an industry wide solution will be highly effective.

Standardised safety frameworks, like those proposed by Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), aim to improve digital safety for both brands and users. By creating shared definitions of brand safety and suitability for these new platforms, advertisers will be better able to pinpoint problems and develop solutions.

Platforms themselves can be part of this conversation, and many are making strides forward by opening themselves up to third-party measurement to better protect brands on their platforms. Third-party reporting saves time with one source of truth and allows marketers to fairly measure success across platforms.

For example, users tend to lose interest and scroll away after seeing the same ad several times so determining when to refresh a creative by analysing viewability trends over the campaign can prevent creative wear-out.

Further still, comparing time-in-view data across each social platform and ad format or using quartile completion rate data on video ads can inform advertisers where they should include the call to action, ensuring viewers are seeing their message. From here, marketers could make decisions more effectively and accurately on where, which format and what kind of content beside which to run their ads.

A Move Towards Brand Safety and Suitability

But on these fast-moving platforms, brand safety and suitability is the target. Brand safety and suitability can directly increase brand outcomes. IAS’s social study found nearly half of UK online shoppers (47%) feel favourable towards brands whose in-feed social ads appear next to content that aligns with a brands image.

For this to happen, the industry needs to focus on two things: brand safety and collaboration. A key focus is expanding brand safety coverage to social in-feed environments, including developing capabilities around image and video classification as well, while creating a framework that can apply across social networks.

Both these advancements will give advertisers the tools needed to navigate brand safety issues, while suitable placements will negate the need for overly cautious blocking.

Platforms are making such shifts, with TikTok and Twitter both announcing its recommitment to brand safety last year. IAS partnered with TikTok to provide a solution that combined sophisticated tech with GARM’s industry framework in order to understand the risk classification of social content. 

Instead of trying to police all content, brands need to focus on placing their ads alongside content that complements its messaging and where audiences will be receptive to it. Implementing this utilising sophisticated machine learning solutions able to read complex blends of text, audio and video.

Though the sheer volume and complexity of video content can seem overwhelming to marketers, careful consideration of ad campaigns and utilising brand suitability and contextual tools where available is the way forward. As the popularity of platforms grows, marketers need to be able to quickly but safely make their impression.

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