Following a spate of misplaced ad scandals and fake news controversies,brand safety is commonly acknowledged as one of the most pressing challenges currently facing marketers looking to reach digital audiences.
But the impact on, and reaction of, consumers to issues around brand safety is less well documented.
According to latest research from Reuters, Tomorrow’s News 2018, a high proportion of consumers believe brands are responsible for where their ads are running.
62% of consumers believe “brands have full control over where their advertising appears”.
The majority of consumers (77%) also say that advertising next to ‘unsavoury or objectionable’ stories can damage their perception of a brand. Worryingly, 75% have seen brands advertising alongside unsavoury or objectionable stories or videos. And while 81% feel that Facebook and Google should be ‘held accountable’ for the content they carry on their platforms, they are unaware of their role in brand safety. Reuters respondents believe the buck stops with advertisers.
Impartiality, trust & integrity
Ad agencies and tech companies alike, are being forced to pay more attention to good governance, and collaborations with trusted partners to avoid these types of challenges.
With this in mind, the value of impartiality, honesty and integrity also featured strongly in the Reuters analysis. A huge majority of global respondents said they were more likely to turn to professional publishers, such as online news brands, over social media for trusted content, with 86% more likely to turn to online news brands for “trusted content in a trusted environment”.
The uncomfortable truth in our digital age is that it’s not always clear where online ads are running. And yet, consumers – perhaps unsurprisingly – have little idea of the problems of programmatic, vulnerable supply chains or, most importantly, the huge role that Google and Facebook play in the process.
Investment in brand-safe environments and trusted partnerships is supported by numerous studies recently, from Group M to IAS – and they all show the link between brand safety and performance. Now we can add that this is something consumers are also clamouring for.
Reuters Tomorrows News 2018
You can also read and download the full report here.
A quick check of their books reveals that in the first quarter of 2017, 92 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising across Asia Pacific (ex. China) went to Facebook and Google.
That’s an incredible statistic. The good news is that digital marketing in the region is clearly experiencing strong growth, with revenues up by $1.23 billion year-on-year in 2017. The bad news? Of that $1.23 billion in growth, virtually all of it – $1.13 billion in total – goes to Google and Facebook, with only $100 million to share across the remainder of APAC publishers.
Facebook and Google combined revenue this quarter hit 51% of all APAC revenue, meaning more budget goes to to Google and Facebook than every other digital publisher in the region put together.
Google and Facebook also forge ahead in terms of revenue against all media in the region, taking 15 cents in every 1 dollar spent. This is up from 12% – or 12 cents in the dollar – last year, and represents the increase in budget flowing from traditional media, including TV.
Finally, a note from history. In the early 1900s, the United States had around 2,000 firms producing one or more cars. By 1920 the number of firms had decreased to about 100 and by 1929 to 44. In 1976 the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association in the US had only 11 members.
In many ways digital advertising, and the industry that surrounds it, is it’s own worst enemy. All dollars eventually become digital dollars, so it is the only show in town. But a show obsessed with the next shiny thing, full of incomprehensible – and often meaningless – metrics, and more importantly, critically lacking in real transparency. Programmatic has only accelerated these tendencies.
Google and Facebook have done a huge amount to bring new money into digital advertising by simplifying advertising for brand marketers. And they have reaped the rewards.
However, they are now part of a systemic change representing an existential threat to an entire industry – media, advertising, agencies, publishing, journalism are all caught up in this – across the region and globally. Change rarely comes without casualties. The struggle for monetisation continues.
A huge debt to Jason Kint (this chart in particular) and Brian Nowak at Morgan Stanley for the inspiration for this article, and the work they have done creating similar graphs for Global and US ad revenues. Corrections welcome. Numbers are based on Facebook and Google publicly filed earnings information and best industry advertising revenue estimates – but someone out there may have a better view. The major assumption in this data is to exclude Chinese advertising spend both from Google and Facebook earnings information and APAC industry spend estimates to avoid distorting the data in a market where Facebook and Google have small (although not insignificant) advertising businesses. All the data is available on a public Google sheet (yes, sorry, it’s Google!) here.
Notes and References.
1. Google 2017 1st Quarter Earnings Report: a. Estimated based on reported total APAC revenues x 90% (percentage of Google revenues represented by advertising) b. Excludes Google revenue in China estimated based on APAC revenue data sources.
2. Facebook 2017 1st Quarter Earnings Report: a. Estimated based on reported total APAC revenue by User Geography b. Excludes Facebook revenue in China estimated based on APAC revenue data sources.
3. APAC digital revenue data compiled from: IAB, eMarketer, GroupM, ZenithOptimedia, McKinsey & Company
4. APAC all media revenue data compiled from: IAB, eMarketer, GroupM, ZenithOptimedia, McKinsey & Company.
MediaMath has announced the launch of a curated publisher marketplace product to deliver premium, high quality media. With the brand safety questions around social media and UGC environments right now, this is a timely move.
The Curated Market will employ a stringent set of brand safety standards and protocols:
Focus on large scale, high quality publishers based on ComScore
Privileged access to high priority inventory in the publisher ad server
Transparent, validated URLs only
Exclusion of most user generated content, specifically in environments or on publishers that do not support content monitoring, verification and blocking
Integrations with leading third party verification platforms including Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify and Peer39 to provide brand safety filters
Exclusion of sites or content promoting illegal activity, hateful or distasteful rhetoric
Ability to opt out of all user generated content – often the source of brand safety issues – paying only for secure, brand-safe inventory across all channels including display, social and video.
To help ensure MediaMath stands by the brand safety promise, MediaMath clients using the Curated Market will not pay for media if it does not meet the agreed upon criteria at the publisher level. Specifically, if advertisers find their ads are run on previously determined unsafe inventory they will be credited with a refund for those impressions by MediaMath.
Joe Zawadzki, Chairman and CEO of MediaMath, said: “Digital advertising has long promised the ability to change how marketers interact with their customers, but the ubiquity of channels and content means marketers need to be more selective. The Curated Market offering provides transparency and hygiene in execution and reporting, audience addressability at scale and accountability for actors in the digital ecosystem, across all channels. It will change the way marketers think about buying ads.”
Overall, this is a smart move from a DSP that has let competitors – The Trade Desk and DBM to name two – get a jump on it in recent years. A commitment to brand safety is increasingly what brands are looking for in 2017, and MediaMath is to be applauded in taking a proactive approach.