Brand Safety: Easier to Achieve with Native

In this exclusive article for ExchangeWire, Nickolas Rekeda (pictured below), CMO at MGID, explains how native advertising can offer brands the safety they're looking for.

Brand safety is a growing concern across APAC, but the solution may be simpler than you think.

With brand safety incidents increasing 55% year-on-year across the region, and an even greater increase on mobile, inappropriate or unsafe digital ad placements are taking a real toll on consumer trust and brand perception. A recent IAS study reveals 86% of consumers in Indonesia hold brands accountable for the content surrounding their ads. Almost 80% will cease using a brand’s products if their ads are found near unsafe content, along with 65% of Japanese consumers and 63% of Singaporeans.

To address brand safety concerns, advertisers are using an array of granular controls, including blacklists, whitelists, keyword blocking and verification tools. They are identifying an increasingly restrictive list of content types against which they are not willing to have their ads appear, from obvious categories such as hate speech and violence to more nuanced brand-specific subjects. But, as illustrated by the recent YouTube controversy where big brand ads were found to be running alongside climate misinformation videos, there will always be categories, subjects or situations that get overlooked.

While these granular controls are vitally important, it may be that brands are making life unnecessarily difficult for themselves by trying to enforce brand safety across ad formats, channels and environments that bring a high risk of unsafe placements. By taking a step back and looking for channels and formats that are inherently brand safe, such as native advertising, they can make the task of avoiding inappropriate placements so much simpler.

Here are three key reasons brand safety is easier to achieve with native advertising:

Naturally safe placements

Native advertising is designed to blend seamlessly with the editorial environment in which it appears, to enhance rather than disrupt the user experience. When discussing the benefits of native the focus is often on function and aesthetics, with ad units adapting to the device and screen on which they are viewed, and creatives taking on the look and feel of the surrounding content. But true native advertising also ensures that the content and messaging of the ad is relevant and appropriate to the content of the page on which is
appears, which delivers a more valuable user experience and leaves far less scope for brand safety incidents.

Contextual ad targeting

Rather than placing the emphasis on avoiding damaging placement, native advertising uses contextual targeting to proactively seek out placements within content that complements the brand’s products, services or values. By aligning the on-page and advertising content, the brand’s message is amplified and reaches consumers when they are in the right mindset to engage with it.

Nickolas Rekeda, CMO, MGID

Rather than using blunt tools such as keyword targeting, which can easily misunderstand the context of content and cause unfortunate placements, advanced native advertising relies on more sophisticated artificial intelligence-based techniques. Technologies such as semantic analysis and natural language processing can be used to analyse the words and sentences on the page, truly understanding their meaning as well as the sentiment they evoke, and ensuring ads are placed in contextual environments that will reinforce, rather than conflict with, their message. Because native advertising largely uses context rather than personal and behavioural information to target advertising, there is also less risk of data privacy issues which can be just as damaging to brand reputation as an ad misplacement incident.

Premium publisher environments

By embracing native advertising, brands gain access to premium publisher environments that pose far less risk of unsafe placements. Publishers that use native advertising on their websites and apps do so because they want to maintain a positive user experience, with ads that complement their valuable content rather than detracting from it.

Native ad networks vet publisher inventory carefully to ensure it is of high quality, and they also scrutinise advertisers so brands can be sure their messaging won’t appear alongside other ads for unsavoury products or inappropriate services. Native ad networks allow publishers and advertisers to closely together to provide safe, premium online environments that deliver an exceptional user experience.

Concerns around brand safety aren’t going away, and innovative tools will continue to emerge to tackle unsafe placements, but by taking a step back and adopting a more organic approach to the brand safety situation, brands can reduce risk and make their lives much simpler. When you add together naturally safe ad placements, a proactive approach to ad targeting, and access to premium publisher environments, it is clear maintaining brand safety is much easier with native advertising.


MGID is a global advertising platform helping brands reach unique local audiences at scale. It uses privacy-first, AI-based technology to serve high-quality, relevant ads in brand-safe environments.
The company offers a variety of ad formats, ...

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