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Is your brand safe online?

By Vijay Solanki

Brand safety rates as one of the key areas of tension for the retail industry, but it’s not just about being linked to supply chain issues like unsafe worker conditions in Bangladesh or being outed by Oxfam’s Naughty or Nice Christmas list. The worldwide march towards e-commerce and ‘online everything’ has added another area of brand safety to the list that retailers should be monitoring.

In reality, brand safety as it relates to advertising is nothing new.  Think of the many instances of unfortunate print and TV ad placement next to an unpleasant news story, or when a radio shock jock shares a challenging opinion just before your ad is scheduled to run. Digital advertising brand safety is definitely the new kid on the block and it’s very fast moving, so you should make some time to ensure you understand how to manage your brand online.

Start by considering what a ‘safe’ brand environment looks like for your organisation. If you run a cheeky underwear brand you will have a totally different view on the appropriate media environment as compared to if you are running a traditional footwear brand. Spend some time considering where, when and how often you want your brand to appear in various environments – including what you consider to be the ‘no go’ zones.  Naturally regardless of the differences between brand approaches, there is no argument that some environments will never be acceptable for any brand.

Next you should get to know what different publishers offer in terms of brand safety, especially if you plan to buy any online advertising programmatically. Even though online advertising may move at a faster pace, you will find that there are many tools available to help you control it. Take the time to understand how different publishers work and the methodologies they each offer to enhance brand safety. Make sure the publisher or the agencies you buy through have a user interface or dashboard or that they allow you to use suitable third party technology to take a more active role in your online investments and management of your brands’ safety. Review your own data and processes and make sure you’ve considered all the risks across print, TV, radio, outdoor and online.

Some 20 million Australians were online during February this year and the time they spend on digital devices including mobiles continues to increase.  This is changing the face of retailing, with many consumers now finding products online and simply going to the store to complete the purchase, or comparing prices, styles, ranges and sizes online whilst in a physical store prior to purchase online.

Thanks to the diversity of the retailing world, a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work when it comes to selling to your customers and nor is there a singular answer to how to manage brand safety. That’s even more reason why we all need to step forward, improve our understanding of it and unlock the power that online advertising and digital platforms offer brands. Ultimately, the consumer is in charge of your future and they have shown it is digital – make sure you are ready to meet them there.

Vijay Solanki is the CEO of IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Australia.

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