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Brand safety replaces ‘dollar in, dollar out’ digital advertising


Beyond the performance metrics of acquisitions and clicks, brand safety is about aligning digital advertising spend on platforms with shared values, according to experts at a Nov. 16 event organized by social media platform Twitter.

“Advertisers realize that measuring ROI [return on investment] is not good enough anymore,” said John Miskelly, Asia Pacific investment director of GroupM, a New York-based media investment company.

Considering brand safety moves away from the genesis of digital advertising, which was “dollar in, dollar out,” added Mr. Miskelly. “It was highly countable – not necessarily accountable,” he said of those early days.

Clients now want to know they are investing in digital advertising responsibly. “We want to factor in other measurements of quality… from an environmental, corporate, and social perspective,” he said.

Conscious consumption habits are spilling over into media investing, said Caitlin Rush, global head of Twitter’s brand safety strategy.

“It’s not enough to build tools that enable advertisers to avoid harmful content,” she said. “From a platform’s perspective, clients want to make sure we are doing what we can to get rid of these things from the platform altogether.”

Twitter’s holistic approach to brand safety focuses on policies, products, and partnerships, Ms. Rush said. Recent developments include:

Policies – In December 2020, the platform expanded its hateful conduct policy to prohibit language that dehumanizes people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin. In March 2020, the rule was expanded to prohibit language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability, or disease. Twitter’s Transparency Report, said Ms. Rush, is a means to be transparent about the enforcement of these rules.
Products – In May 2021, prompts that encouraged people to pause and reconsider a potentially harmful or offensive reply before they hit send was rolled out across iOS and Android, starting with accounts that have English language settings. This, Ms. Rush said, resulted in 34% of its users revising their initial reply, or deciding not to send it at all.
Partnerships – The platform has partnered with organizations such as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (iab.) to address the challenge of keeping its space safe for everyone to share their voice. Ms. Rush added that Twitter is “very proud” to have received JICDAQ (Japan Joint Industry Committee for Digital Advertising Quality & Qualify)’s brand safety certification this month.

Brand safety is not new, as brands were always conscious of the context of the environments they appear in, noted Ms. Rush.

“These new platforms created new environments and came with new areas of risk,” she said. “We are ensuring that we are being a good partner and listening to brand feedback.” — Patricia B. Mirasol

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