Every now and then we at Strossle get questions about brand safety. Are content discovery platforms (like ours) advisable channels for advertisers who are vigilant about their brands? The questions should actually be broadened to: are media sites suitable channels for advertising? The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes, let us explain why.
Advertising has, along with single-copy sales and subscriptions, been the most important revenue source for most modern-day media (from the 18th century onwards). This means that the media industry has had more than 250 years to fine-tune regulations of how content and ads should co-exist in the best way. Consequently, we not only have elaborate legislation today but also industry practice for how advertising should be designed and distributed in order for:
- publishers to continue with independent journalism
- consumers to distinguish between content and ads
- advertisers to feel confident about the context in which their ads are displayed.
Sometimes companies get upset about negative coverage in the press, and occasionally such companies decide to withdraw their advertising money from these "nasty" media. But that kind of punishment does usually not last long because, at the end of the day, advertisers know that the consumers' interest in the media would quickly diminish if publishers bowed easily to commercial interests.
All in all, brands and media publishers have collaborated in equilibrium for a long time, for the benefit of all parties. This is not the case with social media.
Over the last 15 years, companies such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter (I will not include the Chinese companies because they live by rules completely different from those in the western world) have been able to move a very large portion of the advertisers' money from established media to the social networks. Google’s and Facebook’s combined share of ad spend exceeded 60% in 2018 according to eMarketeer.
It is difficult not to be impressed by such a monumental achievement, and established media should definitely blame themselves for being late in reacting and rejuvenating their businesses, but we must also remember that the growth of the social platforms has occurred in largely uncontrolled form.
Traffic, yes please – responsibility, no thanks!
Companies like Facebook and Youtube have been fighting tooth and nail to avoid responsibility for the content published on their platforms. Partly because of the immense workload it would mean to scan and approve billions of postings every day, and partly because it would severely curb their growth.
As a result, both Facebook and Youtube have become hosts to large volumes of disturbing content. The Facebook live streaming of the Christchurch mosque shootings, killing 51 people, is just one example. The number of racist and extremist postings is huge, and such content will easily pop up in users’ feeds since one accidental click on an obscure post will trigger the algorithms to serve more, similar content.
So where is your brand safe?
One may argue, philosophically, that it is not the platforms’ responsibility to become censors of content, because they are merely enablers of communication. But for advertisers contemplating over brand safety, the conclusion should be quite simple: If you worry about being exposed alongside hazardous content, established media is a much safer choice than social networks.
At Strossle we take brand safety seriously. That is why we carefully review all publishers and advertisers before they can join our network. All publisher must comply with Strossle’s Content Ethics, which can be found here. A premium network for premium customers, that is what we want.