market what’s


April 19, 2017
Taking Charge of Brand Safety in a Digital World
Christine Kubisztal
Christine Kubisztal

Recently, advertisers and marketers have watched with interest as major companies have pulled their advertising off of YouTube and other Google platforms due to concerns about their brands appearing next to violent or defamatory content.

This controversy re-ignited the conversations around transparency and brand safety within digital media. In direct response, Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, posted a statement on behalf of its member advertisers calling upon all digital advertising platforms to take necessary steps to protect the safety and reputation of advertisers’ brands.

Brand safety issues are an unfortunate example of the many challenges facing marketers within the digital media ecosystem. Due to the nature of programmatic digital buying, not all inventory is 100 percent transparent upfront. But there are proactive steps you can take to take charge of your brand’s safety.

1. Develop your own set of acceptable brand content adjacencies.

This can be as simple as detailing what environments and or content are acceptable for your brand and which are not. Document these guidelines with clear and specific instructions and communicate to your agency or media partners. Consider including these guidelines into your agency or media partner agreements as well.

2. Ask for a list of domains from your partners on a regular basis.

Perform a spot check of some of the most purchased domains. Are these websites reflective of the suitable brand environments you communicated to your partners? If not, add them to a blacklist. With the fluid nature of programmatic inventory it is imperative to continually check, update, and refresh the list of acceptable domains for your brand.

3. Get smart about verification and digital auditing.

Digital media accountability has proliferated in the past few years. There are many great partners out there if a third-party verification audit is needed. Double Verify, Integral Ad Science, White Ops and Transparent Media Partners are just a few that can help shine a light on your digital media placements.

In addition to the above steps, become a digital brand advocate!

  • Have a consistent and regular voice for transparency and accountability.
  • Attend webinars and conferences to study what publishers are doing to advocate for brand safety.
  • Speak out, blog, and share positive partnership outcomes with your colleagues and agency partners.


Together we can all have a collective impact on the future of brand safety in digital environments.

How do you monitor brand safety across your digital platforms? Let us know in the comments below!