Why Facebook is Expanding Its Brand Safety Controls for Advertisers



To promote a more ‘high-quality ecosystem’ the platform is launching improved delivery reports and publisher whitelists.

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According to recent figures, 80 percent of people in the U.S. now claim they would reduce or stop buying a product if advertised next to extreme or dangerous content online.

In response to this trend and recent criticism for its political ad policies, Facebook is prioritizing transparency and brand safety through a new set of tools for publishers, advertisers, and creators. These include more sophisticated measures for brands to choose where their messages appear prior to their ads going live through the creation of whitelists containing a pre-selected roundup of publishers and video makers they support.

Currently, advertisers have control over where their ads will appear within publisher or creator content, the ability to create publisher lists so they know where their ads may appear before the run, are able to prevent ads from delivering on specific publishers through blocklists, and can curate inventory filters where they can hand-pick the content they want to be associated with their brand.

“This week’s announcement is part of a two-plus year journey that we’ve been on to ensure that we provide advertisers with as many controls as possible to help their brands feel safe and secure being on our platform,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions in a statement shared with AdAge.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new to the platform’s brand safety initiatives:

Enhanced access to controls and delivery reports

In Business Manager or Ads Manager, businesses can create blocklists, find delivery reports, and set an account-level inventory filter ensuring brand safety controls are in place across the board versus having to go into the campaign-specific level each time.

Separately, new delivery reports offer streamlined access to information through a simple search by account ID or publisher without having to take the action of actually downloading the report. The company shared its plans for adding to this update with content level information to flesh out the reports even further.

Dynamic content sets

A new set of in-stream placements will allow Facebook partners to update and adjust video content available to advertisers on a routine schedule based on a brand’s specific needs and interests This content-level whitelisting tool is available for advertisers working with Integral Ad Science, OpenSlate, and Zefr — Facebook’s latest brand safety partner.

Whitelists vs. blocklists

At their core, blacklists and whitelists represent a way to manage where ads run on Facebook’s Audience Network.

An important difference to note, however, that blacklists require a brand to know all of the sites and possible variants of content they wish to avoid. Those that aren’t identified are inevitably left open. Alternatively, whitelists function as a lineup of pre-approved sites and apps that avoid all others.

It isn’t hard to recognize from the roles of each of these lists why brands would find whitelists more proactive — requiring brands to simply input what meets their approval as opposed to what doesn’t.

Facebook shared in its update that whitelists are currently in test mode within the Audience Network and with in-stream ads with a plan for a more broad roll out in the coming year.

“While we have zero tolerance for harmful content on our platforms, we recognize that doesn’t mean zero occurrences. It’s why we are tackling this challenge across the company working with industry, enlisting expertise across subject matters, and continuing to invest in the technology, tools and advancements that advertisers are asking for.”

In the midst of growing cases of fake news and extremist content, our industry is tasked with the urgent matter of defining brand safety more concretely. This is not only to the benefit of platforms, advertisers, and brands but most importantly, humans. As marketers, we can innovate and build business opportunities that redefine privacy and safety as much more than protective measures.


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