In an effort to better control where their ads are shown, advertisers have adopted blocklists. However, the effects of this limitation are gradually being felt on the reach of ads and the engagement of Internet users. Today, they are gradually abandoning their standard brand safety strategies to place advertising through (contextual) brand-relevant content.
Instead of avoiding sites with inappropriate content, brands are now taking a more focused approach to finding suitable locations for their ads. However, they have to find the right balance between being very strict on brand safety practices and reaching the audience level they need. By looking for the suitability of the content of an article or site with the brand, platforms can better define the content and thus better guarantee brand safety.
However, the platforms’ advertising targeting tools are not yet sophisticated enough to define all types of content in order to filter them. For example, it is still impossible to know the type of music in a music clip with which an ad will be broadcast.
In 2017, a brand safety crisis occurred when advertisers discovered that their YouTube ads appeared alongside videos about terrorism. To counter the problem, more and more advertisers turned to blocklists to filter content according to keywords, channels or publishers and thus protect their ads. The use of blocklists in ad targeting tools provided by ad verification companies has resulted in the automatic blocking of a considerable amount of content, but it has also eliminated a lot of acceptable content. Over time, blocklists have become so long that they have limited the reach of advertisers.
In addition, while major brand-safety incidents have decreased, the risk remains. Recently, Samsung and L’Oréal, for example, discovered that their ads were shown on videos promoting climate change denial on YouTube.
For all these reasons, advertisers are now very sensitive to contextual advertising. Technology providers must make efforts to adapt to this new trend and continue to do so following the implementation of the RGPD, but especially following the recommendations announced by the CNIL (French National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties) to promote explicit consent of the Internet user to the setting of cookies, and following Google’s announcement that it wishes to block third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2022.