Advertisers Are More Concerned Than Ever About Brand Safety, According to New Study

Particularly on social media platforms

58% of respondents said they were more concerned about brand safety this year than they were in 2017. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Some advertisers are unsatisfied with the way social media platforms have addressed brand safety concerns, and they are more concerned than ever about their advertisements appearing in brand-safe environments, according to a survey of 304 advertising decision-makers released Wednesday.

The survey, which was commissioned by the advertising and media company Oath and conducted in April by the research firm Advertiser Perceptions, found that 99 percent of survey respondents expressed concern about their ads appearing in brand-safe environments. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they were more concerned about brand safety this year than they were in 2017.

Brand safety has long been a major point of concern for advertisers, especially for those who work with companies like Google and Facebook. After Google-owned YouTube ran advertisements alongside objectionable content, an advertiser exodus ensued, prompting YouTube to roll out a number of changes to improve brand safety.

In March, Facebook, whose reputation has been marred from data privacy scandals and instances of offensive content appearing on the platform, rolled out brand safety guidelines attempting to assuage advertisers’ concerns.

According to the survey, though, respondents were divided on whether social media sites like Facebook and YouTube were doing enough. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said they felt social media platforms like Facebook were doing a good job addressing advertiser brand safety concerns, but 45 percent of survey respondents said social media sites were doing a poor job of addressing advertiser concerns.

Similarly, 54 percent of respondents said they felt user-generated content sites like YouTube were addressing brand safety concerns, while 42 percent said they weren’t.

Advertisers were more satisfied with ad platforms, according to the survey’s results. Seventy percent of respondents said they felt that demand-side platforms and exchanges were adequately addressing advertiser concerns.

As for programmatic buying, respondents said they were adjusting their buying strategies to account for better brand safety. Half of the survey’s respondents said they were applying pressure on their partners to ensure that brand safety concerns would be met, and 45 percent said they were moving their ad spend to premium publishers with good reputations.

Nearly half of survey respondents said they would implement third-party technologies to flag brand safety issues, while a slightly lower number said they would use blacklists or whitelists with their programmatic partners.

“As long as prominent media headlines call out fake news and offensive content, pressure will continue to mount on content publishers and platforms to address brand safety concerns—and provide effective solutions,” the survey’s results read.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.
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