16 Oct 2017 14:10 IST

Global advertising revenues hit by brand-safety concerns

Programmatic advertising declines 12%

Advertising spends appear to have dropped globally amidst brand-safety concerns. Though measurement tools are in place even in India, along with brand safety controls at advertising agency conglomerates, the inevitable appears to have happened, resulting in a 12 per cent drop in programmatic advertising.

Offensive content

A backlash over placing advertisements or branded content alongside extremist propaganda in March this year resulted in advertising agencies and some major brand advertisers pulling out their ads from Google.

Though the search major reacted with alacrity, it has put several checks and balances in place to ensure that advertising is not displayed alongside offensive content.

The safety of brands is big business, insists CVL Srinivas, Chief Executive Officer of GroupM South Asia. “Even in India, there is still some amount of fear with advertisers with regards to brand safety. Brands prefer a safe and secure environment rather than be at the receiving end and be another avenue for attacks. We have not yet crossed the hump here,” said Srinivas.

A report by the research agency MediaRadar has noted that brand-safety concerns continue to have a major impact on global advertising, with 5,000 fewer advertisers purchasing programmatic advertising, which is the use of software to purchase digital advertising compared to traditional human intervention.

This has resulted in a 12 per cent year-on-year drop, according to MediaRadar, the ad sales intelligence provider.

The report is based on the tracking of more than 265,000 advertisers across digital and traditional channels. After years of growth, the decline in programmatic advertising is being attributed to concerns around brand safety.

Facebook addressed advertisers’ concerns over brand safety last month by taking steps that would restrict the type of content that could be monetised around in-stream ads.

For media buyers, the task of ensuring brand safety is proving to be a tough one, with some roping in third-party expertise. Safety of brands being paramount, ad agency conglomerates, including WPP’s GroupM, Omnicom, Publicis Media and Interpublic’s Magna Global, have enlisted analytics company OpenSlate’s auditing services to ensure that ads on Google and YouTube do not appear next to offensive content.

According to OpenSlate, there are more than 350-million ad-supported videos on YouTube, and the average advertising campaign could include ads running on 200,000 different videos.

Officials at media-buying agencies point out that since advertisers can never completely eliminate the risk of appearing alongside inappropriate content, media agencies are introducing strong safety measures. GroupM has partnered with OpenSlate to ensure that their ad placements are safe.

Brand safety

Srinivas insists brand safety “is a hot topic and has affected digital spends majorly, though in India it has not been that severe”.

Brands have to be careful about the steps they take, says Srinivas. “We are living in an era where brands need to build a lot of trust with consumers. Many brands are facing a lot of attacks even on social media these days. A brand makes a small mistake, it has to pay a heavy penalty,” he adds.

As of now advertisers in India are monitoring the situation, he insists, though it has impacted sentiment of ad spends on digital platforms. “Though there has been no across-the-board cuts, some advertisers continue to be cautious and have gone off certain platforms.”

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