Brand Safety for Marketers: Everything You Need to Know

15 June 2020

How to address smart TV, DOOH, geolocation data, audio and gaming

On June 10, GroupM released brand safety recommendations for marketers as part of a 28-page guide. GroupM Executive Vice President John Montgomery noted that the landscape of the advertising market has changed dramatically over the past six months: CCPA came into action, Google announced the refusal to use cookies, the US presidential campaign began, which again raised the issue of fake news, and all this pandemic and protests against racial inequality followed. He added that all these events give marketers the opportunity to rethink familiar approaches to brand safety.

Previously, risks for the brand were mainly associated with programmatic advertising and social networks. Now, when, due to the pandemic, traditional media had to change the format, new channels appeared that brands should pay attention to.

The GroupM report analyzes how the brand safety concept will evolve in the future, taking into account current political, social and technological changes. The report focuses on five categories that are transforming particularly rapidly: smart television, DOOH (digital-out-of-home), geolocation data, audio, and games.

What aspects GroupM recommends that brands pay attention to:

Legislative changes: GDPR and CCPA, as well as their counterparts in other countries, have changed the ecosystem, and the consequences of introducing these restrictions will be felt for a long time. Since with the disappearance of cookies, many old metrics will also disappear, the industry has a chance to unite and create new, more effective standards.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalization worldwide. Consumer habits have changed (more news, games, streams). Advertising goes to the consumer, which means that it is necessary to create new measures to ensure brand safety, which would take into account a new picture of the world.

Technologies for creating fake news and videos are becoming more complex, and it is very important for brands to ensure consumer confidence and demonstrate maximum transparency in all their actions.

The share of smart television in advertising budgets will grow significantly in the coming years. But measuring results is now very difficult: they are focused on individual devices and platforms of various publishers. This area needs more transparency.

Digital Out-of-Home will continue to evolve and become more complex, and programmatic advertising will become more common.

The gaming industry provides advertisers with access to a very wide audience, but here, brands will also have to face the problem of having multiple platforms, games, types of players, and relationships between publishers. The popularity of online sports is growing, but brands need to be mindful of the risks associated with the brand (gaming violence and abuse). If, after a pandemic, people continue to spend a lot of time at home, the gaming industry will retain some of the growth resulting from the crisis.

Adsider highlighted key brand tips for each of five factors:

Smart TV:

  • Prefer direct deals or programmatic inventories equipped with app-ads.txt.
  • Avoid indirect deals with a large list of intermediaries.
  • Make sure that the contract is signed correctly and protects your rights.
  • Work with sellers who comply with SIVT rules for mobile applications from MRC SIVT and are in the process of obtaining OTT accreditation.
  • Ensure that the reality of your views is verified by a third party, and also require complete transparency regarding the level of impressions.


  • When planning a DOOH campaign and choosing a purchase method (directly, through a platform or programmatic), be guided by the profile of the acceptable risk of the company.
  • Manually check each supplier to ensure that ads are shown only on high-quality sites and protect against fraud.
  • Sign a reliable contract.
  • Check any data set provided by the inventory provider / platform to make sure that the data is collected correctly and in accordance with the law.
  • Evaluate all purchases according to predefined quality criteria.

Geolocation data

  • Never buy audience segments in which the source of geolocation data is not disclosed or unknown.
  • Make sure all geolocation partners are verified by GroupM.
  • Use location verification for all location-targeted campaigns.
  • Be sure to carefully verify that your campaign meets local privacy requirements.


Digital broadcasting and streaming on demand:

  • If you work with a platform or streaming service, check how they ensure the safety and reliability of the content that is monetized.
  • Make sure that the DSP you use to purchase programmatic ads or platforms has agreed to the terms of the agreement that will protect your brand.
  • Use all available opportunities for targeting, especially age and geolocation (to avoid contact with a children’s audience, if it is not necessary).
  • Avoid inappropriate keywords and programs (news, gossip).
  • Make sure that the requirements of the client are respected (that is, in a stream designed for adolescents do not advertise alcohol).


  • If you work with a particular service, make sure they carefully select which podcasts to present.
  • Before investing in a podcast, familiarize yourself with it and its creators to make sure that working with them will not harm your brand.
  • If possible, check the content and request decryption to make sure that the content of the podcast is suitable for your client.
  • Make sure that you comply with the client’s requirements and the law (that is, teens don’t advertise alcohol in the podcast).
  • Use age targeting whenever possible.


How to work with specific games:

  • Use open web standards to ensure brand safety to avoid fraud.
  • If possible, use whitelists, or at least exclusion lists with topics that are not suitable for your brand.
  • Pay special attention to the game equipment in the application.
  • First test exclusively on the web or that TV / OTT, with a standard advertising format.

How to work with teams and players:

  • As in working with influencers in social networks, pay attention to the cost, exclusivity, personal moral standards of the person you plan to work with — determine whether they suit your brand.
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