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Tired of brand safety issues?

Tired of brand safety issues?

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It has been almost six years since the firestorm that saw marketers boycott Google over advertisements appearing next to offensive content. Since then, the industry has come a long way. Marketers and agencies now have access to more methods and tools to filter out inappropriate content, and now, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) has issued a common framework to safeguard the whole industry.

Brand safety, in which advertising material appears adjacent to inappropriate content, continues to plague the marketing community. The GARM’s 2021 report found that 3.3 billion pieces of content – including videos and images – were removed for violating guidelines set out by social media platforms. While not on the same level as 2017’s hell-raising headlines, brand safety risks continue to pervade the Southeast Asian (SEA) advertising ecosystem.

According to Integral Ad Science’s recent Media Quality Report, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam saw a “noticeably higher” amount of advertising alongside harmful content such as offensive language, controversial content, violence and hate speech, since 2020.

Given today’s sensitive climate, whereby one wrong move can trigger a mass ‘cancellation’ online, SEA marketers would be wise to pay closer attention to their ad placements.

Unfavourable associations

SEA consumers have more power than ever before. Every day, they are greeted with multiple choices for food, shopping and experiences, with each brand sporting offers and deals. They are also among the world’s most digitally engaged and active. This year, SEA’s digital economy is estimated to be worth more than US$200 billion alone,and will potentially hit US$1 trillion by 2030. By 2023, a third of SEA businesses will generate more than 15% of their revenue from digital products and services, compared to one in six in 2020. Around two-thirds of people use mobile services and SEA has some of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone penetration and significant social media penetration.

Rapid digitisation has gifted SEA consumers with an endless array of platforms and channels to consume content. For brand marketers, this is rich pickings, but also an ecosystem fraught with risks. Every day, SEA consumers encounter swathes of cyberbullying, online harassment, extremist content and toxic content. When customers see this content alongside that of a brand, it creates unfavourable brand associations.

One particular risk is when digital advertisements appear on websites that are known for right-wing news stories, such as Breitbart and the Daily Mail. If a brand is known for promoting an ethics or values-based narrative, then such placements will deeply undermine a reputation that’s taken years and countless dollars to build.

Meanwhile, being associated with a certain type of content will see a platform draw audiences the advertisers don’t necessarily agree with.

Any major brand safety scandal could result in a loss of followers and advertisers. A worst-case scenario could see a brand pulled into a cancellation storm. These potential consequences can no longer be regarded as unforeseen. Therefore, it’s imperative for brands to fully evaluate their media strategies end-to-end, from publishers to ad targeting and whitelisting tools. Developing a close relationship with trusted media outlets is of particular importance when building a safe media strategy.

How to avoid brand safety issues

Strong partnerships will enable advertisers to build long-term campaigns aligned with a publication’s particular audience. And, as digital players shift priorities from new customer acquisition to deeper engagement with existing customers, this will be an opportunity for marketers to likewise build deeper relationships. Hits and impressions must now be backed up by increased usage, engagement time and value to the audience.

As 2023 looms, marketers will be bracing themselves for potential economic uncertainty. But that is not to say opportunities will flatline. SEA is a dynamic, fast-paced region with constant changes in consumer behaviour.

There is no better time for brands to leverage first-party data, both to improve targeting and also to analyse consumer behaviour for better media planning.

First-party data –information collected by a business directly– can provide a better understanding of audiences by capturing their directly-expressed needs and interests. Generated from direct customer interactions across various touchpoints, first-party data provides more audience clarity, enabling marketers to target with greater precision. This presents a momentous opportunity to experiment and innovate with targeting strategies, ranging from new creative content, optimised conversion funnels and multiple testing models. These will ensure brands are giving audiences high-quality experiences consistently.

Attention measurement should now be at the core of a creative process, with a focus on building experiences rather than just formats.

Attention metrics will soon become standard media KPIs, especially for video advertising. Strategies underpinned by these components will be more effective at cultivating a media plan that puts deeper engagement and audience first, rather than simply chasing quick hits. These plans will naturally be safer, more relevant, and position brands to thrive.

This article was written by Hamza Kourimate, vice president, gobal head of sales marketing and data solutions at Dailymotion.

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