Mar 12 2019
Kristin Furjanic

How To Maintain Brand Safety During Programmatic Media Buys


Is your brand important to you? We certainly hope so. After all, you've spent countless hours and innumerable amounts of energy developing a brand that tells the story of your business and conveys everything you want the public to know about your company.

It would be a shame if all the efforts you've put into extending your outreach fell into the wrong hands, compromising the integrity of everything you built.

Programmatic advertising is vital to building your audience and creating an extensive outreach that leads to better customer engagement. Yet, how do you balance awesome exposure without incurring the potential problems that could transpire if someone put your brand alongside content that doesn’t fit company values? Fear not, there is a way!

  1. Put Brand Safety Pre-Considerations at the Top of the List

First, decide what level of risk is tolerable for your company. If you're running brand campaigns that are built to generate awareness, you'll need a higher risk tolerance than if you were just running direct-response campaigns.

Once you've settled on the amount of risk that's acceptable, utilize pre-bid screening tools that will enable you to understand how the safety parameters you've put into place measure in the real world. Centro's partner Comscore offers a tool, for example, that allows you to understand the risk and reward tradeoffs for important metrics such as:

  • Viewability
  • Invalid traffic
  • Brand safety
  • Contextual categories
  • Page content
  • Site Rank

Centro also partners with Peer39—another company built around providing brand safety in digital environments. Of course, the more your campaigns are screened, the more likely your efforts won't reach optimal scale. It’s important to set reasonable expectations of permissible risk first.

  1. Create a List of Block list and Allowed list Sites for Your Campaign

Block list sites are specifically prevented from serving your ads. To retain brand safety, you'll want to put websites to your block list if they:

  • Are known to display questionable content (determining what is ‘questionable’ will be relative to your brand/company values).
  • Belong to your competitors.
  • Are owned by publishers whose content or editorial philosophy doesn't agree with your brand or company's values and mission.

Allowed list sites are the opposite—where your ads would only be served to specific sites that you’ve identified as aligning with your values or deem ‘safe.’ Know that using an allowed list, however, may limit your reach and scale. Generally (and not specifically related to block lists or allowed lists), you can find a list of trustworthy ad inventory sources on Pixalate’s Seller Trust Index, which evaluates multiple criteria in how ad marketplaces source ad supply.

  1. Understand How Methods and Technologies Come Together to Enact Brand Safety Plans

Have you ever wondered if YouTube is safe for your brand? It's a valid concern, but there are precautions you can take to make sure your message stays as intended:

  • Digital content labels enable you to exclude your advertisements from places with improper parental ratings, such as “MA” and “Unrated.”
  • Topic exclusions were designed to prevent your brand from being associated with potentially controversial themes, such as politics or specific social issues.
  • Sensitive subject exclusions provide you with a way to avoid tragedy and conflict.
  • Content exclusions give you a way to opt out of content types that might be difficult to monitor or measure.

Programmatic media buys are extremely beneficial to any business, but brand safety must be at the top of the list before letting the algorithms go to work. By blocking content that doesn't fit your company's values and utilizing the tools that automate the security process, you'll be able to achieve scale in your campaigns, without putting your brand in a publicly compromising position.

Centro has everything you need to ensure brand safety on every digital media buy. We're here to help you realize positive ROI without sacrificing the integrity of your business.

Learn more about Programmatic Advertising with Centro.


Have your cake and eat it too: adopting a brand safety approach that doesn’t cost you scale.