“Brand safety needs to not be seen as an add-on, but a default to align to the expectations of advertisers,” says zvelo CEO, Jeff Finn in CMO Innovation.

*****The following article, by Winston Thomas, appears as an online article on CMO Innovation’s web site and was originally published on April 19, 2017.

CMOs Need to Own Up to YouTube Ad Debacle by Winston Thomas, CMO Innovation

The YouTube ad placement problem, where ads were placed along improper content, got the ad community riled up.CMOInnovation-BLOG-graphic-small-square-4web

Ad buyers started clamoring for better transparency and accountability. Google responded by saying the problem is “tiny,” but is looking to use AI and promised better control. Meanwhile, others on the sidelines are saying that the walled garden approach to programmatic ad buying is ultimately flawed.

Sizing up the problem
For Jeff Finn, CEO, zvelo, a provider of content and device categorization, it is about brand safety. The real problem, he believes, is that many assume that ad platform providers are proactive about their brand safety.

“Many CMOs are working with the assumption that demand-side platforms (DSPs) and supply-side platforms (SSPs) are taking proactive steps to ensure brand safety, and this is simply not the case,” Finn said.

It is a matter of economics. “Until now, brands have been reluctant to pay for brand safety, so the ad tech ecosystem has had little or no incentive to incur the additional costs associated with implementing a brand safety solution,” Finn added.

Due to this, many DSP and SSPs typically add brand safety as an add-on feature. “Brand safety needs to not be seen as an add-on, but a default to align to the expectations of advertisers,” Finn said.

Also, many CMOs and brands assumed that by moving to a walled garden, where Google and Facebook control ad placement through algorithms, the brand safety concerns were no longer theirs.

“The move to walled gardens was made in a belief that certain publishers would not have brand safety issues and, therefore, could be trusted to deliver a brand safe experience. However, the issue of implementing tools and practices to ensure brand safety was not addressed. So, it’s really a combination of no market incentives or consequences for a failure to implement effective brand safety, plus a technically challenging solution,” Finn said.

Overcoming technical challenges
Admittedly, ensuring brand safety can be a technical feat. According to Finn, dynamic content changes, broad language coverage, diverse slangs across different languages, and the ability to detect and categorize videos make it difficult for proactively update brand safety categorizations.

“Finally, these categorization updates need to be streamed in real-time to the buy-side and sell-side platforms at massive scale and in a raw data format for ingestion into the respective bidding and selling systems, eliminating the need and latency associated with cloud or external database calls,” he said. Read more.