Brand Safety is discussed a lot but rarely does anyone invest proactively in India to protect their brands from it. This is because the marketers think that there isn’t any RoI. The fact is that campaign ROI (in terms of performance) and Brand Safety are both linked together. Solving for one, actually solves for the other as well, allowing advertisers to invest in Brand Safety, while also improving campaign ROI at the same time.
Brand Safety is a going on concern. It is not something which can be achieved at one point of time and then the marketer can stop being bothered about it. Till the brand exists, which is perpetual in intent, the brand must remain safe.
Among the challenges that business face while embracing digital, Brand Safety is one the most discussed topics. However, there are very few brands that actually invest and translate the discussion into commitment to make the brands safe. Brands in India seem to be comfortable doing lip service to it, or treating it as a normal by-product of advertising. Good to have, but not good enough to put time and money on it. This is a wrong strategy, and brands in India need to wake up on it.
Brand Safety in a layman’s language is about keeping the brand clean and pure from any bad pollutants that interface with it during the digital journey. A brand has not only to communicate right things, but also with the right people through right mediums. Any deviation in this is a potential Brand Safety issue. This could be very detrimental for the brand. Instead of bringing customers and revenue for the brand, the same advertisement could result in irreversible losses. It would not take long for a brand name to become a bad name!
Despite it being a humongous challenge, Brand Safety can be achieved through regular monitoring of brand presence across the digital assets. At the same time, it cannot be done by the advertiser alone. It has to be collectively achieved by an advertiser, agency and the publisher.
One of the main reasons of Brand Safety, perhaps not getting its due mindshare is how to measure the RoI. Also, the impact in terms of the bad advertising that it could result in, is very subjective. It would be difficult to measure for any brand how many users disengaged with them due to their ad being placed on a porn site, for example. Similarly, a brand may never come to know that a customer wanted to transact with them but landed on an infringed site or app of theirs, after which she or he dropped the idea.
While this complexity of measuring impact of Brand Safety issues remains, there is still measurable impact of the challenge on the performance of campaigns. At mFilterIt, we continuously have been monitoring several of the brands we work with for any Brand Safety issue. What we found is there exists a positive co-relation between safe brands and the success of campaigns in terms of ROI.
Consistently, the cohort of brand unsafe placements end up generating much poorer conversion rates and has a poor ROI when compared to cohorts of brand safe placements. This implies that not only is the brand impacting itself by unsafe placements, it also ending up getting poor performance from it. Reversing this, it implies that a brand can justify its expenses into Brand Safety by getting a much better ROI on its normal campaign spends as well. Looks like a double benefit for the brand and a win-win for the Advertiser and the Agency.
So, in summary, I believe strongly that Brand Safety is critical for a brand. If advertisers are waiting for ROI justifications for investing in a proper Brand Safety solution, the performance upside from this is actually the simplest justification. Especially with the festive season coming up, brands would benefit from this dual strategy and be also able to justify to their finance teams on the efficacy.