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Brand safety & programmatic: It’s time to stop buying blind

Programmatic introduces transparency and control to the complicated online ad market. It gives buyers visibility over what they’re buying, helping to ensure ads appear in high-quality, brand-safe environments – something that is far from guaranteed to advertisers in South East Asia.

Yet many in the region are still flying blind when it comes to their online video spend. The complexities associated with programmatic trading, often incorrectly, hold many back from not only getting value for money, but also from ensuring their brand is paired with appropriate media placements.

In many instances, buys are being executed primarily on price, rather than taking into account reach, scale and quality. This results in a number of unfavourable outcomes for brands. With a lack of control over placement, reliance on inventory packages or ‘black box’ solutions, advertisers run the risk of losing control over placement both in terms of publisher suitability and page location. They run the risk of appearing on non-brand safe environments with little contextual relevance or transparency into where the ad appeared.

Not all impressions are created equal
Marketers and agencies are united on the importance of brand safety. In a recent study by Integral Ad Science conducted in the US, brand safety was the primary concern for both marketers and agencies when buying programmatically, with around 40 per cent of respondents nominating it as their biggest concern.

emarketer spotxchange

So how can buyers in South East Asia maximise control over their spend?

Understanding is key. The distinction between brand safety and ad fraud is often misconstrued. The former occurs when campaigns run across inappropriate sites or content that is not licensed, while the latter refers to ads served on bot or non-human traffic. Buyers should make themselves aware of their supply partner’s brand safety and fraud detection processes. Look for vendors that work with strong brand safety guidelines and validated third-party tools that detect, notify and block fraudulent traffic.

In an automated world, buyers need to ensure they’re getting full transparency on where the impression is served. Programmatic partners can provide comprehensive real-time insights on ad serving. While aggregators and ad networks can help make buys quicker and easier,they often don’t provide transparency into inventory volume available by location. Without full transparency it’s difficult for the buyer to judge whether their ads are being served across legitimate video inventory and which segments are performing the best.

Buyers should ask the following questions to evaluate inventory quality:

• What portion of inventory is professional content versus user-generated content?
• If content is professional, what portion of the inventory is licensed content?
• What portion of the content is hosted on large/medium/small players?

Programmatic can help buyers eliminate risk, if the right processes and frameworks are in place. Working with supply partners to serve ads across appropriate placements, partner brands and audiences should not be considered a chore with automated trading on your side.

Christopher Blok

Christopher Blok is the Director of Demand, APAC, SpotXchange.