By Aaminah Latif

Shares of budget going through Programmatic pipes is continually rising across the marketing funnel from performance direct response to larger branding deals. Across all of these buys, both advertisers and agencies need to ensure that, whilst campaigns may be audience-led, the context of the ad has a brand safe environment to ensure a user has a positive reference to the advertiser. 

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With the beauty of digital and new inventory being made readily available to us, the downside is that not all inventory will be what we consider brand-safe for every advertiser. At Merkle | Periscopix, we combat this daily and work with DoubleClick and other vendors to ensure that we utilise the available technology to block unwanted inventory pre-bid. 

What is pre-bid?

Pre-bid are measures put in place to block inventory appearing in the auction for an advertiser to bid on. This ensures that advertisers don’t pay for an unwanted impression.

Each technology supplier will also have a layer of automatic protection where they disable and remove content from their exchanges; the sophistication varies by platform.

What measures are put in place pre-bid?

At Merkle | Periscopix, we incorporate a range of brand safety measures across all campaigns:

  1. Digital Content Labels

    DoubleClick and YouTube classify content into 5 key labels, similar to film ratings:
    • General
    • PG
    • Teen & Older
    • Mature
    • Not yet classified

    The majority of campaigns will only actively target General and PG, with all campaigns blocking Not Yet Classified. Hundreds of new sites and videos are uploaded every second and approval of these and classification can take time, therefore removing Not Yet Classified ensures that an advertiser’s brand doesn’t risk appearing on dodgy content.
  2. Sensitive Categories Exclusion

    Think topics that could cause a bit of a debate or are considered sensitive to mass audiences e.g. Politics, Profanity and Transportation Accidents. As best practice we block all of these.
  3. Category Exclusion

    To add on extra control of brand safety, we are able to exclude additional categories of placements across our buys. These include; ‘Live Streaming Videos’, ‘Tragedy & Conflict’ and most importantly ‘Content Not Yet Rated’.
  4. Negative Keywords

    We have created a blocklist of keywords that we don’t want our ad appearing next to when the term matches the title or description of the video/site a user is visiting. These keywords primarily fall into categories of ‘animal testing/cruelty’, ‘hate speech’, ‘pornography’, ‘terrorism’.

    If there are any specific keywords your brand has had negative exposure to previously, ensure your agency adds to this to their blocklist.

Is there anything that can be done post-bid?

Yes, we can do this through additional prevention as well as reporting.

  1. Blocking

    We can partner with brand safety vendors such as Integral Ad Science and Moat to ensure that if you have placed a bid on unwanted inventory, a blank ad is passed as opposed to your standard creative. This can be used as an additional prevention on top of your pre-bid measures.
  2. Reporting

    Ensuring that your technology is transparent and passes back domains into your reporting, allows us to identify where we have served and establish if there are any sites we would like to remove going forward. 

    Brand Safety measurements are continually being updated as technology becomes more sophisticated in response to industry concerns. At Merkle | Periscopix, we have an active role in feeding back to our tech partners on safety requirements for running our programmatic campaigns. If you have any concerns about your brand and the environments it is serving on, speak to one of our specialists.

For more information, please read the full Merkle | Periscopix brand safety policy.

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