This is an old but good example of how impactful is to take care of the brand safety guidelines of any brand. Back in 2014, Twitter users questioned how this important newspaper allowed this to be 2 hours online without checking. This case was talked about on important advertising blogs and criticized by several users. I think the responsibility and reputation were shared between iPad and the New York Times with heavier weight on the newspaper because at that time people did not know that those kinds of ads were put automatically instead of manually as on print newspapers.
The consequences were short-term if you think about selling fewer iPads or loyal users not reading this prestigious newspaper anymore. However, this case opened a little bit more debate about brand safety and its importance.
What is brand safety anyways?
Straight from the Banner Flow‘s blog:
According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), brand safety is defined as keeping a brand’s reputation safe when they advertise online. In practice, this means avoiding placing ads next to inappropriate content. According to the IAB this also involves providing a safe environment for ad trading.
The result: a reduced risk of ad misplacement and a brand’s reputation unharmed. Plus, the elimination of the funding of content and services which infringe copyright. But the reality, like most things in life, is a lot more complicated.
What to do about it?
I had never used programmatic advertising, but the progress made in the last few years about this topic makes it very attractive to try taking into account that algorithms can track most keywords used on every page an ad is put. In my opinion, one of the main challenges is still related to automated systems interpreting changes in the language of new generations, sarcasm, memes, videos, some images, etc. Possible misinterpretations may bring brand safety risks in a more interconnected and fast digital world.
Always make sure to set up your online advertising campaigns to select in which websites categories you do not want or want your ads to run.
Learn more about Google’s brand safety settings: https://support.google.com/displayvideo/answer/3032915?hl=en
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