Artificial Intelligence Marketing Blog

by Oren Langberg
Lead Solutions Engineer

Concerned with Brand Safety, Major Brands Pull Ad Spend from Google and YouTube

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The British government, The Guardian, and Havas UK are just a few of numerous major players that have paused their Google Network advertisements out of concern for brand safety. What can advertisers do to protect their brand from problematic placements?

Programmatic advertising has brought unparalleled efficiency to the world of digital marketing, but a brand’s reputation can’t be trusted with just any automated platform. Without the right technology, automated media buying can bring with it an array of risks for your brand’s reputation.

The UK government was the latest in a string of high-profile clients to have been burned by a careless approach to the placement of online advertisements. In mid-March, the UK Cabinet Office pulled millions of pounds in taxpayer funds from their YouTube ad spend after an investigation revealed that its advertisements were being shown alongside extremist content, including propaganda from U.S.-based white supremacy groups.

By choosing to pause all of its YouTube and Google Display Network Ads, the UK government has joined a growing crowd of displeased brands that includes other huge names like UK publication The Guardian, L’Oreal, and Havas. Moving forward, organizations like these will need to learn how to protect brand safety in a marketing environment that is increasingly dependent on computers.

Brand Safety and Programmatic Advertising

Brand safety refers to any proactive effort taken by a brand to avoid potential negative impact from ad placements. The term most commonly refers to technologies or functionalities that allow users to control where online advertisements can and cannot be displayed.

Following a statement from the UK Home Affairs Committee, Google UK Managing Director Ronan Harris promised in a blog post that Google would provide more tools geared toward brand safety in the future. “We’ve begun a thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls,” he said, “and we will be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network.”

These brands weren’t just frustrated because they were placed next to videos published by David Duke and other hateful figures, however — the real sticking point of poor brand positioning is that the ad spend will effectively be funding the content that it’s paired with, which can lead to potentially catastrophic perceptions of political commitment or deep association.

Trust Machine Learning to Prioritize Your Brand’s Well-Being

To best navigate this complex online environment, brands need a flexible tool that can not only accept a set of parameters from marketers that helps it distinguish good media placements from harmful ones, but can begin to learn the difference on its own. Programmatic tools only go so far. What brands need is more intelligent systems based on AI and machine learning.

With AI-based advertising and marketing tools, marketers can maintain control over media buying operations, but without all of the hassle of human-driven manual operation. Marketers and advertisers can choose what types and categories of media you purchase from Google, and you can blacklist categories of media (such as news sites, gaming sites, or specific YouTube channels) before launching campaigns.

These same filtering tools also allow marketers to target audiences with an unprecedented degree of precision. If say, you want to avoid targeting people in a certain geo-location, or people of a certain age group, AI-based platforms can do this. These systems allow marketers to use programmatic ad exchanges like the Google Display Network and YouTube, as (despite the recent controversy) these networks are known to have the best quality traffic and filtering parameters, without having to worry about brand safety. Should extremist content slip through the cracks, marketers can either manually block it through the AI-based system or expect a quick resolution from Google.

Most crucially of all, Al-based advertising and marketing systems don’t optimize marketing campaigns in a vacuum. Their capacity for predictive analytics and deep learning allows them to constantly learn which placements get the best user reactions and re-optimize each campaign accordingly.

If you want prioritize the long-term health and safety of your brand, you should look into an AI-marketing platform like Albert, who is at the ready to help you take your online marketing efforts to the next level.