The conflict in Ukraine has impacted the world as well as the media industry. You can’t go too far in the digital space without running into content surrounding the global unrest. Images and videos of the war’s violence and human suffering are flooding into the media space.
Marketers are concerned about the tone of their messaging as well as the context of where the ad appears near this content. Navigating around unwanted content is not necessarily a new concept but the stakes do seem higher this time around.
While many brands question whether to run digital ads at all during times of heightened sensitivity; we believe the approach should be more nuanced than a simple on-or-off solution. We have been in communication with our media partners and agency associations to understand what kind of safety measures are available across media channels to protect our partners and maintain brand integrity.
We are helping to navigate our clients digital advertising around some of the content. There are several strategies to consider when looking protect your brand messaging:
- Programmatic partners can add layers of protection surrounding content related to the Ukraine/Russia conflict. Control segments can be hand selected to ensure ads are not surrounding a certain type of content.
- Third party brand safety verification partners can apply control segments to also protect content. We work with Integral Ad Science for our clients and have applied these controls where applicable.
- Facebook has offered global clients the opportunity to test a topic exclusion program that could include: News and Politics, Tragedy and Conflict, and Debated Social issues. If people are engaging with these topics a brands message won’t be served.
- LinkedIn offers IAB Exclusion Categories in their LAN Network ensuring content running isn’t tied to sensitive topics such as: Government and Politics or International News.
- Consider restricting where you buy and making sure your digital publishers are “chasing out” any misinformation around the conflict.
There is not necessarily a one size fits all answer or approach to whether you should pivot, pause, or pull out. Understanding the tools that are available to protect brand safety is a great first step, but there is no perfect solution, and some level of risk remains in the digital space. Advertisers must understand their risk tolerance before they can move forward with any approach. Ongoing evaluation and learning should continue, as we navigate these tumultuous times. As an agency, we will be continuing to utilize all resources available to us to make the best recommendations for our clients.
Written by Executive Vice President, Amy Ward, & VP of Digital Technology & Data, Colleen Winterling