Namah Chawla

Decoding the brand safety paradox

Laura Quigley and Saurabh Khattar of Integral Ad Science talk about the merits of contextual advertising, impact of ad frauds, evolving brand safety technology, and more.

The digital advertising landscape is shifting and one thing is clear: context is critical. Brands have moved away from traditional binary brand safety controls towards a more customisable approach that allows them to connect with the right consumers at the right places.

Third-party cookies will be phased out by search engine giant Google, starting mid-2023, posing a challenge to marketers. This is because certain privacy laws are making sure that the data protection right, remains with audiences.

In an interview with afaqs!, Saurabh Khattar, commercial lead - India, Integral Ad Science (IAS), says that this is the reason why many marketers and audiences are moving towards a new technology, i.e., contextual technology.

“While this was only based on keywords earlier, we are now using many new technologies with it that involves sentiment analysis, natural language processing, and then we use this to target the right audience,” adds Khattar.

IAS is a New York-based technology company that analyses the value of digital ad placements. It is known for addressing issues around fraud, viewability and brand risk.

Earlier, most marketers used just audience targeting. Now, they want to move towards contextual marketing. Khattar states that in most cases, contextual targeting brings about amazing results that are better than audience targeting.

The expectations have also evolved over the years. These days, brands talk about attention and engagement metrics. They want access to more and more data to understand their audiences. They require details about attention metrics, scroll rate, open rate, number of times a video is played or paused, etc.

These metrics help brands with audience engagement and also lets them know where they should put more money.

Highlighting a few major trends in the digital marketing space, Laura Quigley, senior vice president - APAC, IAS, points out that in the coming years, there will be increased investment in OTT, which has already become a big deal in India.

“Due to the COVID pandemic, people were spending more time in their homes that resulted in soaring video consumption rates. We will continue to see that. Another exciting space is audio. As a business, we are looking to invest in audio. And, we will be doing that via global partnerships,” adds Quigley.

Brand safety practices have long been essential to marketing strategies. While most brands agree on what constitutes unsafe content, the ideal advertising environment is likely to be unique to a given brand.

Khattar reveals that ad fraud is a great industry because if someone is committing one (an ad fraud), they can’t be legally sent to prison.

As per Belgium-based World Federation of Advertisers, ad fraud cases will cross $100 billion by 2025. This increase will be witnessed on not only the open web, but also the social web.

Khattar mentions, “Many brands have realised this. There are many ad fraud solutions available today, wherein we can give these brands reporting of granular data insights. There is blocking technology in which ad frauds can be stopped.”

According to an IAS report, the unoptimised ad fraud rates are between 13 and 15 per cent. So, if any brand is spending Rs 100 crore, Rs 15 crore will only go towards ad fraud. Now, all big FMCG companies are taking constructive steps to protect their brands from ad frauds.

Khattar believes that many upcoming brands need to be educated about ad frauds. There needs to be an awareness about the origin, types of ad fraud, etc.

Advertisers need solutions that understand the complexities of these environments, while upholding the value of premium inventory. That’s why sophisticated technology, using machine learning and natural language processing, is important.

The updated technology that exists today, aims to make sure that blocking mechanisms are not overused to allow more scale for advertisers. This technology enables advertisers to understand the emotion and the sentiment of a page, and they are able to read one like a human.

“There’s been an evolution of targeting and brand safety. Brand safety and ad fraud, particularly for India, is like bread and butter. That’s what clients are investing in. It’s important to know that these are all fixable problems. So, it’s up to the advertiser and the agency to recognise that they don’t want their brand to be in a negative environment. And also make sure that digital is a safe and smart place to invest in,” Quigley signs off.

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