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    Brand safety guide in mobile programmatic

    Adriana Ullivarri
    Posted by Adriana Ullivarri


    Brand building is key for companies, that's why advertisers have always been concerned about where their ads are displayed. Ads on newspapers, TV or billboards would seem much easier to control than their digital counterparts. There are thousands of examples of badly placed ads, pick your favourites from these selections by Business Insider and Buzzfeed. Shouldn't AI - buying media programmatically - allow us to be more efficient and control possible damage beforehand? If your focus is solely on getting the cheapest CPM, CPC or CPI, should you also worry about where your banner, video or native ads are being displayed?  Our answer is a big "Yes!". 

    The examples we give above are unfortunate (and somehow fun). But it doesn't really need to go that far, you might simply not want to connect your brand with certain news, publishers or demographics; or do associations that will hinder your branding efforts because they might be perceived as tasteless, disrespectful or they would be outright illegal. In the way an alcohol related ad is misplaced in a children app. Brand safety should extend beyond the 'wants' and take into account local regulatory restrictions.


    Where to start

    • First, we recommend you take a look at this IAB Ad quality checklist.
    • Define your brand and have a clear idea of where it should grow and what you'd like to avoid.  
    • Prioritize transparency to choose trustworthy partners to work with. Forget about black-boxes and measure incrementality in your campaigns. 
    • Understand the industry pitfalls to steer clear of them: not only brand safety concerns, but also Ad Fraud.
    • Implement a brand safe strategy, control results and revise your strategy accordingly. 

    Steps to ensure your mobile campaign is as brand safe as possible

    If you don't want to rely on 3rd party solutions for brand safety, buy traffic that gives you granular information about the publishers and placements you're buying in. You'll, then, be able to control where your ads are being shown. Especially, focus on traffic that gives information about: 

    • Ads.txt, Authorized Digital Sellers, which is an IAB initiative to improve transparency in programmatic advertising. Publishers can create their own ads.txt files to identify who is authorized to sell their inventory. The files are publicly available and crawlable by buyers, third-party vendors, and exchanges. Ads.txt is available both for webs and apps. 
    • Bundle ID, which will certify the app you are buying in, as it uniquely identifies an application. 
    • Domain ID, available for mobile web traffic. 
    • Tag ID, to know in which placements your ads are being served. 
    • IAB categories and subcategories, so that you can select which ones to use. 

    Once you gather information about where you're buying or if you previously know which publishers you don't want to target, create publishers or (sub-)categories blacklists. Although, we suggest you take a nuanced approach rather than blocking entire content categories or keywords. And it's important to take into consideration that those lists will affect the reach of the campaign and should be reviewed regularly. 

    Another thing you could use are deals (PMP), either with a particular publisher or a bunch of them through an SSP. Here included are contextual targeting deals (which, at the moment, are more focused on web than app environment) and demographic deals. On that same line, you could use an Audience from a qualified data partner to only target users that are compatible with your brand. 


    Location-based 'brand' safety

    Geofencing is one of the main attractions of programmatic buying in mobile. Which raises the question of what measures are being taken to ensure that location is reliable and accurate? Choose partners that have protocols to validate geolocation accuracy and offer a wide range of precision levels, like mediasmart. 


    Incremental metrics

    In data-driven advertising those delivering the best perceived ROI (cost per conversion) get the biggest budgets. Unfortunately, the best measured ROI is too often delivered by those who manage to attribute a lot of conversions for themselves, not those who provide the highest value by using more effective and brand-safe placements. Stop wasting your budgets by focusing only on those conversions that are incremental.


    How can mediasmart help? 

    What's sure is that there is a lot of complexity when it comes to advertising quality related to Viewability, Brand Safety and Fraud. We make available all the options listed above to our clients to use. On top of our efforts to fight Ad Fraud in the industry, we are invested in being as transparent as possible and getting the more reliable traffic sources for our advertisers. If you want to learn more, here's a guide of what mediasmart does about Brand Safety


    You might also be interested in our article about 'Tackling mobile advertising fraud' and 'We are at the tipping point in defeating mobile ad fraud: What more needs to be done?'. 

    Topics: brand safety, ad fraud, mobile fraud