Brand safety in times of crises, pandemics and information chaos

Brand safety in times of crises, pandemics and information chaos

August 22, 2021

3 minutes

Mobile apps have been a great place to advertise products and services for many years now, not only because of their popularity and reach, but also because of aspects such as “brand safety”. In the past, advertisers paid less attention to this aspect, but due to the dynamic development of the Internet and the desire for quick profits of many portals/publishers, such as Facebook, companies began to take a closer look at this issue.

Companies such as Unilever or Procter&Gamble have repeatedly announced the suspension of ads on Facebook or YouTube due to brand safety. That’s the kind of information that’s been coming out lately regularly.

What is brand safety?

It is such an environment of displaying advertisements that does not cause the risk of image crises for brands. When a brand shows up on sites that allow illegal downloads, it risks being accused of supporting piracy. When it shows up next to content, articles about disasters, tragedies it can be suspected of preying on people’s increased attention with an unpleasant topic. Each “inappropriate” emission of an advertisement may cause an image, financial or even legal risk.

What categories of content are should be excluded?

Content that violates the law and is socially harmful or contrary to morality, including, in particular:

  • pirated, infringing copyrights or industrial property/trademark rights,
  • advocating violence, terrorism and incitement to crime,
  • promoting racism, neo-nazism, Nazism,
  • promoting fascism, totalitarianism,
  • discriminatory or xenophobic,
  • promoting gambling,
  • acts of unfair competition,
  • promoting pedophilia, pornography,
  • promoting drugs, psychoactive substances,
  • containing malware/spyware/malware/trojans,
  • immoral or unethical in nature,

Unmoderated User Generated Content (UGC).

Fake news / intentionally misleading content.

Other types of content are considered individually by the chosen brand as damaging to its reputation.


Who should protect the brand?

All companies involved in the execution of the campaign have a responsibility to look after the brand welfare of their customers. Various practices enable publishers, agencies, advertisers and tool providers to minimise risks by preparing appropriate strategies, implementing suitable actions and constantly analysing and monitoring campaigns in terms of brand safety.

What is the use of brand safety in campaigns?

The most common practices are:

  • domain whitelists,
  • domain blacklists,
  • verification partners,
  • targeting by selected keywords,
  • keyword exclusions,
  • use of media where brand safety risks are non-existent or minimal.

Every brand should:

  • Determine which contexts pose the greatest risk to the brand – create an appropriate definition of brand safety.
  • Check if there is an opportunity to exclude the riskiest contexts.
  • Create blacklists and whitelists to help determine which sites your campaign will or will not be broadcast on.
  • Work with trusted and experienced publishers and should implement monitoring and reporting.

The effectiveness of the measures will never be 100%, but it should minimize the risk. It is very important not to forget about trusted and reliable publishers in the media mix, where the risk related to brand safety either does not exist or is minimal. Some examples of such applications are:

Listonic– mobile shopping list, no dangerous content, users add to shopping lists products that they buy later in the store.

Moja Gazetka– newspapers of retail chains in one place, the only content in this application is the standard promotions of the current offer of stores.

Momly – app that helps women during pregnancy – it informs them about what is happening in their bodies and suggests what to do in a given trimester.

Waterful – app, which is used to record the amount of fluids consumed, helps in better hydration of the body.

Below is the brand safety risk analysis of the above mentioned applications:

* Listonic and Fitatu are based on content entered by users. There is a minimal risk of the brand appearing in the wrong context e. g. advertising a sugary drink for a diabetic, meat for a vegan etc.

** A minimal risk of misleading content in Moja Gazetka may result from errors in the newspapers of retail chains – independent of the application itself.