05.30.19

What Amazon Is Doing about Brand Safety

As more brand safety concerns rise to the top of programmatic’s waters, advertisers’ cries for a safe place to advertise will grow in intensity. For the myriad of ad platforms vying for a piece of the digital advertising pie, swift measures to quell these nerves is the only reasonable response and a foregone necessity to collect market share. 

As the ecosystem battles for supremacy through brand safety, Amazon and Amazon-owned properties, like the Washington Post are emerging from the pack with a series of first -and third-party brand safety measures.

The State of Brand Safety

If we zoom out and look at the entire programmatic landscape, exclusive of Amazon, it’s clear that brand safety is top of mind. Google, for example, announced third-party measurement partners to address problems at the platform level on YouTube. Similarly, Facebook introduced brand safety measures to give advertisers visibility into which publishers their ads might appear on, while DoubleVerify launched Authentic Brand Safety, which lets advertisers deploy a single set of brand safety controls across multiple programmatic buying platforms.

From a high level, these steps appear to be getting through the advertisers. According to a survey of ad industry professionals conducted by GumGum and Digiday, concerns about brand safety are down more than 30%. However, digging deeper, we reveal an existing level of anxiety that’s yet to fade. In a 2018 poll of advertisers by Oath and Advertiser Perceptions, 99% of the 304 respondents said they still had concerns about brand safety.

So, which way are advertisers leaning? According to Carly Carson, account supervisor for paid social at ad agency PMG, “Marketers are more concerned about brand safety now than they were a year ago because they are finally paying attention.” Carson went onto say, “Marketers are finally opting for a brand safe environment, rather than just scale or impressions.”

At the end of the day, the persistent concern about brand safety sends a clear message: The advertising ecosystem that offers the greatest level of brand safety will be in a position to win.

Here’s what Amazon is doing to get there first:

  • Evaluate each bid request in real time to detect and block invalid traffic.
  • Apply proprietary blacklists as well as IAB bot filters and blacklists to avoid poor placements across its ecosystem.
  • Block unauthorized requests using ads.txt to remove unauthorized reselling and counterfeit inventory from the programmatic supply. The Amazon DSP will block unauthorized publishers from selling impressions on certain third-party exchange inventory.
  • Use third-party systems and technology such as comScore to verify website environment quality available on the open exchanges (SSPs) as well as pre-bid targeting from IAS, DoubleVerify, and ODC.
  • Provide advertisers with post-impression traffic and adjacency standards checks
  • Manually audit inventory for compliance with Amazon’s quality and adjacency standards.
  • Accept blacklists from advertisers and agencies to weed out any website to steer clear of before the campaign goes live.

No advertising platform can guarantee end-to-end brand safety—at least not yet. As we wait for the market’s response, the player that can ease the nerves of advertisers the best will put itself in a favorable light. Today, Amazon and Amazon-owned properties may be the best bet at brand safety.

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