Brand Safety & TV Advertising

Modern advertising is as much about a brand’s reputation as it is about the products they sell. Whether intentional or not, a consumer will gauge their opinion about a brand based on the context surrounding their ads. Traditional TV tends to be a safe bet for advertisers, but there can be some significant pitfalls that brands can face in the broad scope of digital advertising if they’re not mindful of the importance of taking steps to ensure brand safety.

Family together preparing to watch TV

What Is Brand Safety?

In advertising, brand safety refers to maintaining a brand’s reputation while marketing their products and services. While strong strategy and messaging can go a long way in this endeavor, the main concern in modern advertising is where these creatives exist online and on TV.

Brand safety faces major complications online due to misaligned algorithms that place ads alongside questionable, undesirable, or incongruent content. This concern has become increasingly potent as misinformation disguised as clickbait runs rampant on social media.

These unfortunate misalignments can impact the efficacy of an ad campaign, as viewers can mistakenly associate the brand with inappropriate content. While there are algorithms to combat these issues online and on OTT platforms, traditional TV advertising tends to be a safe harbor for brand safety.

The Value of TV Advertising for Brand Safety

Traditional TV Is Safe

Unlike its digital counterpart, TV advertising provides a safer environment for brand perception because ad placements are more predictable. With traditional marketing tactics on TV, brands choose the time and network they think would be most impactful and suitable for their content. With the dawn of data-driven TV advertising, as well, brands don’t have to choose between targeted campaigns and safe, suitable ones.

Safety Versus Suitability

During the pandemic, many marketers shied away from advertising in the context of COVID-19, as avoiding “political” or “news-oriented” content is typically the right call for brand safety. However, this unprecedented global event changed the paradigm for timely advertising, and consumers instead expected brands to address what was occurring.

Many marketing industry leaders took this switch as an opportunity to differentiate between “brand safety” and “brand suitability.” The former has clearly defined parameters: avoid advertising for content that is false, misleading, dangerous, or violent. The latter tends to discuss whether or not a brand needs to have a say in a timely conversation.

In 2020, the pandemic, and later civil protests, called for new messaging for brands.  This included more of an emphasis on empathy and appropriately engaging with the global conversation. For many marketers, failing to do so had the opposite effect on brand safety, as Millennial and Gen-Z audiences took note of their silence and often called out brands that refused to comment on the state of the world.

Family of four sitting on the couch watching television

OTT Isn’t the Safest Choice…Yet

While there are benefits to the data-driven strategies of OTT content, this platform’s digital influence can pose a jeopardizing position for brand safety. Additionally, connected TV (CTV) has faced issues with fraudulent streaming apps, with bots accounting for 78% of all fraud incidents on this platform.

A lack of consistency with app names from platform to platform also complicates brand safety, as it becomes difficult to know where a brand’s ad actually ran. The gap in campaign information between streaming services poses yet another concern, as some apps provide detailed information on which ads ran where, while others only offer audience and reach data.

With the rising popularity of adding streaming into the TV mix, brand safety firms are prioritizing implementing standardization of naming and measurement to address many marketers’ lack of confidence in OTT ad placement. Until those alignments occur, marketers who worry about brand safety will continue to flock to the reliable ad spots of traditional TV.

To ensure a brand’s ad content gets where it needs to go, NYI’s Audience One can help drive successful, safe campaigns. From ad placement to analytics that propel them forward, we ensure your brand reaches the right households in the New York DMA- at the right time.