Improve Brand Safety, Reduce Spends, and Improve KPIs – What’s the catch? None

written by HiveMinds Official

on April 21, 2017

The last few months have been quite turbulent in the Digital Display advertising space with advertising giants pulling out of Google and Youtube, and reconsidering Programmatic advertising for their online media spends.

In this two-part blog post, I give a synopsis of the events leading up to this situation, and the reactions from the industry, and my views on what the future is going to look like.



Image source: Bloomberg: AT&T halts spending on some google ads after Youtube controversy


Recommended Reading

  1. Google admits brand safety problem
  2. Google pledges more control for brands over ad placement

What happened: Advertisers realized that their ads were increasingly getting placed on Terrorism, Pornographic, websites with polarizing content, and also on fake news sites.



Image source: Brands your ads are appearing terror and porn sites right now

Google expected this to be a one-off situation, until it spiralled out of control with the exodus of a large number of popular brands. Since this is primarily a problem with technology for content curation, Google has taken a few quick steps towards curbing the size of the problem. Until today, Google was grading its own homework, and now they are rightfully planning to allow external agencies to check the digital media supply chain for quality issues.



Image source: IAB believes in brand safety online

Recommended Reading

  1. Google adds brand safety controls after UK brands pull spend
  2. Youtube partner program rule change to monetize ads
  3. And when in doubt, use Artificial Intelligence : Google is using AI to make sure Youtube content is safe for brands

Meanwhile, we saw that JP Morgan Chase did something that was quite intuitive but never before connected with a Brand Safety perspective. They cleaned up their placements – a routine exercise to improve performance, but from a Placement quality perspective.  Managed placements, along with pre-approved sites that involved decision rules for whitelisting – resulted in the same performance metrics from just 5000 sites instead of the previous 400,000 sites.



Image Source: Alphabet lost about $24 billion in Market value in a week

Recommended Reading

This could result in several developments going forward

  1. Industry projections for 2020 for Programmatic spends (percentage of total Digital spends, as well as overall spends on Programmatic) might follow a slower growth curve.
  2. Programmatic Advertising will continue to be the buzzword – but Advertisers will follow stronger due-diligence towards Vendors, Tools, Checks & Balances, and Brand Safety.
  3. Larger and well-established websites are more likely to be whitelisted, and hence the long-tail reach of ad exchanges will become a hard sell. The revenues are likely to get shifted from the long-tail to the head part of the curve – Possible Internet imbalance and lesser monetary incentives for small players to create quality content, akin to the rich getting richer.
  4. Optimistic view: With the incentives for deceptive ad practices reducing, Ad inventory quality, viewability, and safety will improve (to ensure that advertisers continue to spend) – this quality improvement will ensure that more consumers opt out of Adblock – thus fuelling an increase in advertising spends.
  5. Google and other players are going to increase their efforts towards Brand controls, Manual+AI aided quality curation, and providing more clarity into the Blackbox that Programmatic advertising has been for the past few years.
  6. Third party accreditation agencies will increasingly get used for rating websites, placement quality, and Viewable impression reliability.

One of the predicted developments is already coming true

Aside – What in the name of common-sense is a “non-viewable Impression”?

If the consumer did not see my ad, why am I paying for it? – Advertisers will ask tougher questions going forward, and demand transparency in where their digital dollars are being spent. Features like “Active-View optimization” will be the default rather than an extra-feature.



In short, people have had enough with euphemisms, blatant and subtle ad-frauds, and lack of basic clarity from the larger players in the Digital advertising market. They demand solutions from their current Digital Providers, else they’ll take their money to players who have them.

2017 in Digital Advertising has started to become interesting.

Author : Abhishek Upadhya, HiveMinds