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What Is Brand Safety?

There’s no such thing as 100% “safe” marketing. That said, it’s always a good idea to practice brand safety when advertising your business to newcomers, an existing customer base, or the general public. Doing so can provide your brand with long-term resilience and other benefits.

Today, let’s look at brand safety, how it works, and why you should practice it in the future. 

What Does Brand Safety Mean?

Brand safety is a digital advertising practice that safeguards your brand’s reputation as you advertise. Whatever you put out new marketing material, like an online ad, that ad and its message, context, and elements can reflect on your broader business.

When you practice brand safety, you make sure that:

  • The ad doesn’t contain harmful messaging that can reflect poorly on your brand.
  • The ad doesn’t include any messages or elements that may insult people.
  • The ad doesn’t appear on a website that, by association, may harm your brand or its reputation.

Brand safety is a crucial concern for modern digital ads because of programmatic advertising. Since many digital ads and ad inventory spots are purchased and sold using automated algorithms and processes, buyers like yourself can’t predict with 100% certainty where an advertisement will appear.

Say you put out a new advertisement to draw your target consumers to your store. Unfortunately, that new advertisement appears on an adult-themed website, contradicting your overall brand's theme and aesthetic. 

Some of your customers are insulted, and you attract people who aren't a part of your target customer base to your business.

In other words, it’s a disaster. This is one instance where brand safety can be essential for businesses like yours.

Is Brand Safety the Same as Brand Suitability?

Brand safety might sound similar to brand suitability, but they are distinct concepts. Brand suitability involves matching your advertisements to content that aligns well with your brand's existing values, tone, identity, and consumer base.

For instance, if you run an athletic apparel shop, you might practice brand suitability by posting your advertisements on a workout drink e-commerce site. In this way, brand suitability often goes hand-in-hand with brand safety, but you need to practice both individually.

Why Does Brand Safety Matter? 

Brand safety is vital because it affects the longevity and loyalty of your customer base.

These days, many businesses are very sensitive regarding their reputations, and for good reason. 

A single scandal or damaging incident to your reputation could cause your loyal customers to flee your business en masse. In that case, you’ll have to convince them to return or work on building your customer base from scratch.

Furthermore, brand safety incidents can rapidly pile up if you aren't careful. A single programmatic advertising campaign can have many of your ads appear on bad websites or in front of the wrong people without you meaning to make a mistake.

On top of that, many fraudsters will try to take advantage of automated algorithms and advertisements to make profits or steal your brand’s image or identity. 

For example, a cheap third-party brand might try to imitate your brand by copying your ads' tone, imagery, and font, then taking customers from your core audience base.

Bottom line: brand safety is crucial to protect your brand from fraudsters, bad actors, and embarrassing reputational damage as you market.

How Can You Implement Brand Safety?

On the plus side, there are lots of ways in which you can practice brand safety to keep your business's marketing efforts successful and beneficial for your overall marketing goals.

Stay Away From Fraudulent Traffic

First, it may be ideal to stay away from fraudulent traffic by avoiding fraudulent ad publishers. Digital ad fraud is more common than you may think, with some sources suggesting that it previously cost businesses $44 billion throughout 2022.

In essence, by doing in-depth research and only working with legitimate ad publishers, you can avoid getting fraudulent or bot-driven traffic sent to your website via your advertisements.

Not only will this help you gather legitimate, valuable data you can leverage to improve your marketing campaigns further, but you’ll avoid paying for traffic that is essentially bunk or useless in the first place.

Make Direct Deals With Advertisers When Possible

In keeping with the above, you may further wish to make direct deals with advertisers or publishing agencies wherever possible. 

It’s tempting to stick purely with programmatic advertising, as programmatic advertising is fast, efficient, and perfect for quickly putting out advertisements across the wider web.

However, if you don’t make direct deals with publishers or advertising companies, you can never be truly sure if they suit your brand or will funnel legitimate traffic to your site. The only way to be sure is to do things the old-fashioned way: purchase advertising space using one-on-one deals with publishers. 

This extends to websites, advertising agencies, and various other publishers.

Of course, this takes a little extra time, and you'll no doubt have to practice it before you develop good marketing relationships with ad networks. But in the long run, it could be beneficial in more ways than one.

You’ll practice brand safety, but you’ll also potentially get access to special advertising deals, discounted rates, and other financial benefits simultaneously.

Blacklist Negative Keywords

Lastly, try to blacklist specific negative keywords that can harm your brand.

Exactly which keywords you should blacklist depends on your brand, its industry, and its unique niche. 

However, you can also be safe rather than sorry and blacklist a variety of potentially harmful keywords that don’t relate to your brand at all, like:

  • Accident
  • Drugs
  • Attack

By blacklisting these keywords, you'll ensure that your advertisements never appear on sites with inappropriate subject matter surrounding them. 

In this way, you can prevent your site from being associated with harmful news stories, incendiary articles, and other content that doesn't (likely) go with your brand and its tone or image.

If you're not sure what keywords you should blacklist, do plenty of research beforehand. Check out the keywords that likely don't go with your brand and its image, then include a blacklist with any advertising information packet you put together for future ad publishers.

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Brand safety is a critical topic that all marketers should know about. Whether you’re building a business from scratch or trying to firm up your customer base for the years to come, be sure to keep brand safety in mind as you create new advertisements and launch new marketing campaigns.

It's also good to consider when creating out-of-home marketing campaigns, like billboard ads. AdQuick can help you practice brand safety by telling you the best spots to put your advertisements and providing other actionable insights for your OOH marketing. 

We’ve introduced many new features, so consider checking it out today.


About negative keywords | Google Ads Help

Digital Ad Fraud is estimated to cost brands around $44 billion to fraudulent activities by 2022 and reach up to 45% of total spent: mFilterIt | Business Insider India

Definition of invalid traffic | Google AdSense Help

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