ReverseAds Blog

Managing Your Brand Awareness Ads on the Open Web

September 23, 2021Brand Awareness Ads

Treading The Murky Waters of Open Web Ad Placements to Protect Your Brand Reputation

“Just do it.”

“Yellow arched M’s.”

“Taste the feeling.”

Without effective brand awareness advertising, none of these slogans would make sense. A lot of effort has been invested into building up their brands to ensure that they remain etched in memories. Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign success was largely owed to the fact that it leaned towards a simple commonality with its audience: names. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ campaign achieved immortality status with a simple slogan born from multiple powerful, personal life stories that dated back to the 1980’s.

Although there’s nothing wrong in wanting to emulate the ads and campaigns that these huge brands have put out before, there’s a thin line in open web advertising between building and harming your brand reputation. In the quest to optimize operations, AdTech solutions around matching audience to budget, maximizing the opportunity for marketers to hyper-define, hyper-target and hyper-engage with minimal human monitoring, has taken center stage. But with automated bidding came automated placements and all of the peril and pitfalls that one would expect.

By removing human oversight, brands inadvertently eliminated trust as a key metric in the customer equation. Headlines began to appear around customer backlash when beloved brands appeared on controversial and polarizing websites. When confronted about the placements, brands were actually caught off guard or even confused when their displays were at the heart of often controversial debates.

From adult content to news sites on fatal accidents and crimes, banners were being placed on publisher sites based on contextual data. Where there was demographic, there was display. There was just no customer trust.

It Takes 20 Years to Build a Reputation and 5 Minutes to Ruin It

The popular quote of “any publicity is good publicity” does not ring true for your brand reputation. Advertisers have reaped the rewards of the chaos, shifting dollars gleefully to programmatic engines that promise efficiency and hands-off effectiveness to better target and deliver eyeballs and engagement. But when headlines started heralding the news of high-profile brands appearing on highly controversial websites, few stood up to claim responsibility for the errant placements or brand damage that followed.

Issues around media buying transparency and accountability, lack of ad fraud protection, and clarity around website traffic, instances of brand hijacking and scams, risks to reputation presented in social media, and worries about ad misplacements on open web sites and channels persist for digital marketers engaged in programmatic buying; everything from real-time bidding platforms to Facebook Ads API and placements across the Google Display Network.

What digital marketers need today is a clear view into the change needed to shake the murky measures and questionable placements of the past and secure customers’ experiences and brands’ online investments.

Let’s take a look at both sides of brand awareness ads on the open web:

The Ugly: Relinquishing control of where your ad ends up can be horrifying. In 2017, Verizon and AT&T withdrew much of their ads from Google and YouTube after the algorithm showcased their ads alongside extremist videos, which promoted terrorism and hate. They were immediately taken down but the damage to their brand reputation had already been done.

The Good: In 2016, a charity, Missing People, moved to an open web advertising model after noticing that their out-of-home advertising solutions weren’t doing as well as they had hoped. Their campaign, Child Rescue Alert (CRA), was aimed at bringing back missing children alive in specific neighborhoods, but they had very little budget to make it work. By switching to an open web advertising platform, they managed to increase their response rate from 50% (from out-of-home advertising) to 70%. They even stated that ‘people respond to a message that is relevant to either where they live or a location’, marking the right open web ad placement as a productive, positive solution.

How to Protect Your Brand Reputation When Running Ads on The Open Web

Nearly half of marketers report problems with where and how digital advertising is viewed, and have specific examples of where their digital advertising supported, or was connected to offensive and compromising content.

Searching for the right placement for your open web ads has never been more important. The key is to not only reach the right audience but to reach them in the right channels and at the right levels. Therefore, any full ad solution needs to allow marketers to leverage technology to ensure your ad placement is both efficient and effective.

The days of blind trust and murky measures are over. Marketers are expected to be fluid on what content is acceptable; if a piece of content is deemed not to have integrity but alignment with that content still produces millions of views, sales do not diminish and the brand itself is not disturbed by the content, then the brand may need to consider that alignment to be a success.

Here are some industry-powered tips to help marketers actively take the reins of brand integrity and control in digital display placement.

  1. Develop stronger digital advertising guidelines for agencies and buying networks to adhere to.
  2. Track and monitor ad placements through internal resources while also placing added pressure on media-buying firms to better manage and control placements through their platforms.
  3. Focus on appearance, not just views by appearing within respected sites and engaging in direct conversations with your preferred publishers to identify and craft customized opportunities where your brand will benefit.
  4. Know where and when to activate automated buying and targeting, whether on open or direct networks, by connecting response and engagement with your bigger strategic goal.
  5. Block and flag content or sources that may be damaging and risky to your brands with customizable, real-time blocking technology via implementation of website blacklists and blacklisting keywords.
  6. Question the nature of certain agency dynamics to ensure brand integrity by including non-payment clauses in agency contracts for impressions displayed in non-safe environments.
Innovation in Digital Advertising

A Marketing Call-to-Action for the Advertising Industry

The struggle is real. CMOs are facing increasing pressure from management to secure brand trust and gain tighter ad control. While some are developing new ad guidelines to ensure placements are on target, others are expecting the issue of negative adjacency to be solved by their media-buying agencies.

Although it can be argued that media-buying firms should bear the primary responsibility for ensuring that brand advertisers are not compromised by controversial, irrelevant or damaging placements, digital ad networks and the digital media channels themselves are also responsible for securing brand safety and adjacency.

Marketers must reclaim strategic control of digital advertising direction while looking to agency partners to focus on business and brand priorities, not just individual campaign performance and results.

ReverseAds ensures brand-safe premium traffic across 190 countries worldwide with its unique reach that connects premium publishers, mobile apps, direct advertisers and 50+ DSPs for effective ad placement and data sources as well as diversification.

From knowing the right ad placements on the open web for your target audience to ensuring your brand integrity stays intact, ReverseAds provides a time and a place to shine a light into the world of the open web for marketers to see the difference between an opportunity to place an ad versus an opportunity to truly engage.

ReverseAds solutions involve mitigating risk by limiting ad placement within reputable media brands or established platforms, holding all ads to specific viewability and safety standards and closely monitoring ad placement – if the associated content or channel of choice is controversial, distracting or damaging to your brand integrity and position.

Connect with us via hello@reverseads.com to find out more about what ReverseAds can do for your brand protection on the open web.

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