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Thanks to the Google and YouTube controversy, 2016 became the year that brands finally got #woke to the idea brand safety. Before that, brands were hyper-focused on reach, i.e. ecstatic that video drove a million views, but oblivious to the fact that it played before an extremist ad. Yikes.

Fast forward to 2017 and brands are starting to ask the right questions about a changing digital environment, but pulling millions of dollars of digital campaigns off YouTube or any other platform, is definitely not the answer. The issue is that there isn’t one answer and it isn’t cut and dry. For brands to protect their image, in an online world where “user-generated content outpaces traditional media in both quantity and speed”, their approach needs to be calculated and multi-faceted.

Last week, MarketingLand published a piece by our Senior Director of Media Ops, about brand safety, where Mark discussed 3 active strategies brands can implement to ensure safety. 

1. Prioritize influence over reach

Not only is focusing on massive reach a tired marketing strategy, it makes brands more vulnerable to dangerous environments.

2. Invest in Humans not just technology

“Computers and video recognition aren’t perfect, but the combination of machine learning and human labor is the only way to continue to improve targeting.”

3. Use more than one brand safety tool

“When selecting the right tools, don’t just rely on one type… and don’t just limit yourself to the tools that are currently available — think outside the box and examine the analytics for any patterns.”

We’ve hit Mark Williams up again, to explain how we tackle brand safety here at Fullscreen:

Since brand safety issues were raised in March, the Fullscreen Media team has been hard at work exploring how we can do everything possible to ensure our client’s advertisements are 100% brand safe. We knew that there was room to build on top of everything Google is doing to further safeguard our YouTube advertising. To that end, we’ve created a team dedicated to building out a brand safety tool that evaluates all the potential signals of a video and calculates a holistic score that flags videos for further manual review. Our new tool scores on a video level. e use it in pre-planning and through optimization and reporting phases to flag any potentially dangerous videos and ensure our ad operators can manually review them to determine what should be excluded. Essentially, this automated tool functions as a filter that makes a targeting list of thousands of channels and videos manageable for a single person.

In order to have the highest confidence, we use all the signals that are available to us, whereas competitor solutions only deal with text in the video headlines, descriptions, and tags. We go above and beyond those indicators and are the first to incorporate image recognition, audio recognition, comments, likes/dislikes and machine learning.  In addition to using our tool to score and review videos to create a “whitelist,” we also employ robust negative keyword and negative channel lists to ensure that no campaigns are aligned with known offender channels or themes. We feel that this process, when combined with Google’s internal category filtering, provides the best possible solution for our clients.