8 in 10 industry pros say brand safety issues have improved

The study from GumGum looks at brand safety last year compared to 2017.

The vast majority - 81 percent - of marketing, agency and publishing professionals say that brand safety problems have gotten better in the industry over the last year, according to new research.

The "Brand Safety Crisis: One Year Later" report from GumGum and Digiday, which surveyed 274 industry executives in November 2018, revealed that 57 percent of companies have created an internal role devoted to brand safety in the past year. Fewer than 9 percent said that they companies have not yet created a role dedicated to brand safety.

In 2018, 60 percent of respondents said that brand safety was a "serious problem" for their marketing efforts, a significant drop from the 90 percent who said the same in 2017.

More industry professionals last year (21 percent) compared to 12 percent in 2017 said they’re using image recognition to prevent brand safety problems, according to the study. Respondents in 2018 cited violence, competitor’s branding and vulgar language as the most brand unsafe content.

"The good news is that marketers are less concerned about brand safety than they were last year. It’s still an issue, but not like when the safety wave was still breaking over the industry," said Ben Plomion, CMO of GumGum.

He added that platforms have done some cleanup and have purged a lot of unsafe, phony accounts.

In fact, Twitter went from the bottom of the list of marketers' trusted brand safe platforms in 2017 to the top last year, dethroning LinkedIn, the research states.

"We know that brand safety is a critical criteria for advertisers to invest with any platform, and our focus on improving the health of the public conversation on Twitter is delivering promising results" said JP Maheu, VP of U.S. client services at Twitter. "We are extremely pleased to see that our efforts are being recognized by this study and marketers, and while we have made great strides, we will continue to invest in technology and resources to ensure brands' messages are served in the most brand-safe environment possible."

Facebook came in second, followed by Instagram as the safest platforms in 2018, according to the survey.

"The bad news is that marketers and agencies still rely too heavily on tactics such as blacklisting and whitelisting," said Plomion. "They’re missing out on reaching target audiences as a result. The fact is that there are plenty of longer-tail websites — blogs, for example — that have value because they draw engaged audiences, but a lot of advertisers aren’t reaching those audiences."

He added: "They’re blacklisted because they don’t have the prestige of a site like CNN. Brands are losing out on too much audience because of this heavy-handed, quarantine approach to ensuring brand health." 

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