Brand suitability: What we’ve learned and where we’re going

Brand suitability: What we’ve learned and where we’re going

The internet has made it easy for anyone who wants to build a platform to share ideas and information as ad-supported content. While this is generally a positive development, it also presents brands with the challenge of ensuring they aren’t funding harmful content. 

So, while behavioral targeting and automation have expanded the opportunities available to brands, these advances came with a need to address brand safety. The use of blocking, either keywords or domains, assured advertisers that they’d managed their risk. But it comes at a cost.

The detrimental impact of legacy tactics

Nothing has illustrated the limitations of keyword blocking better than the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a legacy practice that was employed in the beginning when almost every story had some mention of “coronavirus” and brands put safety first and blocked everything.

This meant important, high-quality content from publishers wasn’t supported by advertising due to fears around the content. This played out again in late spring with news about protests. 

What we learned from these situations is that context matters. The fact that content contains words with potentially negative associations (coronavirus, social justice, protests) doesn’t mean the context and how they’re used is a bad fit for your message.

Redefining the approach to brand safety 

As understanding has grown about the effects of keyword blocking, brands are putting their support behind the World Federation of Advertisers’ (WFA) work in creating the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM). 

The GARM initiative is looking at safety and suitability to build:

  • Transparency about the internal workings of how ad buys happen, from the flow of information to the data and how it’s being used.
  • Shared understanding and definitions for buyers and sellers.
  • Refined tools so buyers can determine what content is suitable instead of using an all or nothing approach like blocking.

Get aligned to move from safety to suitability

The GARM Brand Safety Floor and Suitability Framework is a landmark initiative for the advertising industry that defines, educates and promotes transparency. It acknowledges that buyers don’t want to over block and desire to have modern controls that align to what may or may not be suitable for them.

While the most prevalent news of 2020 showed safety needs to be in the context, the GARM suitability framework provides the tools brands need to make decisions. The risk profiles laid out in the framework introduce nuance that gives the opportunity to layer in different risk levels by category tailored to an advertiser’s needs. It creates degrees of avoidance instead of the binary include or exclude.

We’re excited to announce that you can now access brand suitability controls based on the GARM standards within the planning tools of the Peer39 platform and at launch in MediaMath, Verizon Media, Amobee, Xandr, and Centro platforms, with other DSP partners to follow.

Buyers can now leverage advanced contextual algorithms combining inclusion and exclusion options to complete ad buys that are aligned with your brand’s suitability guidelines. These brand suitability controls give you more flexibility to refine your approach to suitable content across multiple categories. Want to learn more about the new controls supporting the GARM suitability framework in your advertising plans? Contact