Brand safety scares should spark a flight to quality, premium content

By ThinkTV | Sponsored
Kim Portrate

Brand safety is in the Zeitgeist, and with good reason. A lot has been said about the content brands appear alongside and the journeys brands take to find relevant, engaged users in the past weeks. But perhaps none more telling than Marc Pritchard’s observation that brands, like people, tend to get what they pay for.

In March, speaking at the American National Advertisers (ANA) Media Conference in Orlando, Pritchard said: “Be aware, you are probably getting what you pay for and it’s likely to be very low quality. At P&G we now only buy from sites that are fully vetted and we’ve eliminated much of the long tail of who we work with, particularly in (digital) video inventory.”

All brands know they need to protect their brands but when they buy online advertising blind through exchanges they can end up in trouble. And it’s getting bigger each day.

The World Federation of Advertisers tells us that programmatic trading makes up 16% of major multinationals’ global ad budgets, up from 10% two years ago. And it makes sense when the pot of gold - advertising specifically to people based on their preferences, browsing behavior and interests – is right there under the horizon, in sight but just out of reach. Used the right way it works wonders as part of a broader campaign. The issue is, used poorly, it can go horribly wrong.

Witness Pritchard’s stunning address to the American National Advertisers (ANA) Media Conference in Orlando, where the world’s biggest advertiser warned of the many risks that come with buying cheap but often challenging inventory blindly through online exchanges.

P&G is not alone. In recent weeks we have seen some of the world’s biggest brands pull advertising on YouTube and Google's Display Network amid concerns over brand safety.

And today we have seen the phenomenon spread to our own shores.

We all know that if inventory is cheap it is often because it sits in unknown content environments with flaws: around viewability, transparency, measurability and effectiveness, to name four.

The case for brands to use premium publishers and multiplatform TV broadcasters for video advertising has never been stronger. Buying premium or Australian content is the simplest way to reduce your brand’s exposure to these risks.

I am talking about advertising within and around premium content with high production values that is created or curated by companies that have probably helped to nurture and grow the brands you’ve looked after for many years.

TV invests more than $2.3 billion on Australian program production annually and continues to fund, produce and broadcast the most popular premium content of any video platform, such as dramas, mini-series, reality shows and live sporting events.

The content is also see-able. Broadcast TV ads are 100% viewable and they are shown uncluttered in a full-screen environment. Of course, there are always considerations for brands to make in any environment but on balance the risks are lower when local, premium publishers and broadcasters are elevated in the media mix.

And TV delivers audiences day in day out: it reaches 16 million Australians a day, eight in 10 families each week and is watched by 86% of the population every week, including seven in 10 people aged 16-24.

And these figures are reliable and public – no walled garden, no marking your own homework. Australian TV has been independently measured and audited for over 16 years and the ABC and SBS, the MFA, AANA and ASTRA have observer status at OzTAM board meetings.

When you buy TV, you know the content you place your ads in has been vetted by humans and edited under specific guidelines.

Of course, any marketer who wants to up their focus on premium content must know whether it is a price worth paying.

The good news is that you get what you pay for when it comes to TV too. As Ebiquity’s Payback study into FMCG brands for ThinkTV showed last year, TV drives more revenue per dollar invested than any other channel, it was also the only media that generated positive short term revenue for participating brands.

TV advertising is the best medium for driving an action: 63% of Australians take action as a result of an ad seen on TV compared to 31% who act based on online video ads, according to Nielsen's Global Trust in Advertising study from 2015.

Clearly, not all programmatic and not all online ad platforms are the same. Many work beautifully as part of an integrated campaign with TV. But as the debate about brand safety rages isn’t it nice to know you have a safe harbor that effectively delivers a return on investment.

Trust TV. It has the trusted premium environments brands need to nurture, protect and build their futures.

Kim Portrate is CEO of ThinkTV

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