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4 Essential Tips for Brand Safety in Digital Marketing

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Three out of four CMO’s have concerns about brand safety. Are you protecting yours?

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When the largest advertiser in the U.S. dropped the hammer on YouTube for placing its ads next to objectionable content, the world took notice. Brand safety became the topic of conversation among CMO’s across the industry. As P&G began allowing media buys on the platform five days ago, its ripple effect continues to raise concerns.

Telecoms, in particular, understood the importance of taking a closer look. John Nitti, Chief Media Officer at Verizon, sat down with Social Media Week’s Toby Daniels at the Times Square Sheraton in New York to discuss the wireless giant’s concerns with brand safety.  How will consistency, transparency, and effectiveness deliver on a brand safety promise?

Addressing the problematic in programmatic

Programmatic ad buys continue to surge, and so does the need for brand stewardship and vendor transparency. It’s critical when you’re in a role like Nitti’s—overseeing a massive omnichannel media budget along with social, community management, advocacy, social selling, sponsors, and ad technology.

“It’s the age-old issue of content and context,” Nitti explained. “Magazines knew that content adjacency was always important to advertising.”

The rise of fraud in the digital space and programmatic buying is a huge concern for brands. A greater need for transparency will be expected from media sales teams, as well as a seat at the table for brands themselves.

Everybody is responsible for making sure buys are transparent.

Keeping pace with the platforms

Next, brands face a challenge with different ways to measure each platform. Different social networks have different definitions for their metrics.

“The TV industry was based on consistency and measured the same way,” Nitti explained to the audience. For Verizon, that means implementing a “Verizon Standard” to help social platforms understand how they count measurements like impressions and engagements across the digital ecosystem.

“We’re getting away from using five different rulers to measure the same thing,” he clarified.

Balancing standards with agility

Verizon is a major corporation that has a wealth of data, and there will always be friction when their owned metrics are combined with the standards of social platforms. The good news, Nitti notes, is that walled gardens are starting to come down a bit. Third-party measurement is beginning to move to the forefront—a welcome change for brands.

One solution he proposes is building metrics into new technologies rather than retrofitting them later on. While marketers may not be able to measure with 100 percent accuracy, processes can be tweaked to improve the quality of data.

Proactive partners for problem-solving

One of Nitti’s final thoughts was on the platforms themselves. Social networks are experiencing their own growing pains. Whether it be Reddit’s attempts to stamp out hate groups, Twitter’s systemic issue with bots, or Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica security fallout, these problems move beyond their organic audiences. Brands see this as a security risk.

Nitti and Verizon consider this as an opportunity to be good partners. “Our approach with the platforms and all these issues is ‘How can we [play] a part collaborate on the solution’ vs. just saying ‘I’m gonna pull my million dollars.'”

Social networks and their advertisers have a win-win relationship and Nitti sees Verizon (and his role) as being a proactive partner.

“If I wait for them to figure it out, then my needs aren’t going to be taken into account and we won’t have a seat at the table in helping solve for that.”

Verizon’s proactive partnerships could do more than secure a seat. For emerging brands across industries, it may even open more doors.

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