Brands see further improvement in ‘safety’ of online advertising

A teenager in bed appears shocked by something on their mobile phone, which we can't see
Risk rate fall: spans desktop display, mobile video and mobile display ads (Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

Fewer and fewer ads shown next to risky content as contextual targeting improves.

Efforts by brands to prevent their ads appearing next to undesirable content online have borne fruit, according to the latest biannual Media Quality Report from Integral Ad Science.

What IAS calls "the brand risk rate" – the proportion of such "risky" impressions to overall impressions – has again dropped noticeably around the world and across both display and video advertising.

For example, in the UK, the desktop video brand risk rate has come down steadily from 6.7% in H2 2020 to 2.2% in H1 2021 and now 0.8% in H2 2021.

The trend is the same for other countries and desktop display, mobile video and mobile display.

IAS attributed the reduction to a variety of factors, including the growing popularity of targeting ads based on context, rather than cookies, and of using pre-bid brand safety techniques that remove unsafe content before it enters the bid stream.

It argued that the use of keyword blocking, which has been criticised by news publishers as a blunt instrument, is on the decline in some markets as a result of the effectiveness of contextual targeting, in which a computer programme analyses the content of a page to assess its suitability for an advertiser.

Csaba Szabo, managing director, EMEA, at Integral Ad Science, said: “The significant decline in video brand risk highlights that contextual tools are delivering measurable results and will fuel further confidence in video ad inventory.”

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