The lively and thought-provoking conversation was led by The Drum’s Kyle O’Brien and was hosted by PulsePoint, the global programmatic advertising platform, at the company’s Madison Avenue headquarters. Panelists included veterans from various sectors of the advertising technology industry: Chris Neuner, SVP, GM of Digital Health Solutions, PulsePoint; Malcolm Cox, CMO, Grapeshot; Rich Sutton, CRO, Trusted Media Brands, Inc.; and Rob Rasko, CEO, The 614 Group.
Over the past few months, the decline of brand-safe advertising environments has proliferated on the web. Just last week, we saw some of the largest brands pull ad dollars from Google’s YouTube, demanding attention and creating a need for an industry solution now, more than ever.
Throughout the night’s discussion, panelists passionately shared varying insights about how the industry can create a unified solution to address brand safety. In order to accomplish anything, panelists argued that each player within the ad tech ecosystem must take on a new role and own some of the responsibility to course-correct their actions.
Ad Tech Providers Must Create Better Technology
Programmatic solutions are at the heart of the brand safety debate. As controversies continue to arise, more brands and publishers are becoming wary of buying and placing ads programmatically. PulsePoint’s Chris Neuner reassured the audience that technology is far from the problem, if your tech provider is doing it right. With the collection of high quality data and the advantage of making decisions in real time, Neuner expressed confidence that programmatic solutions will be able to guarantee advertisers a 100 percent brand safe environment if the proper processes are put in place.
Neuner explained, "We need to focus on the process in order to reduce the risk in brand safety and fake news."
Rob Rasko opined, "This [brand safety problem] isn't Google's fault… it's the way the technology was built."
Publishers Need to Take Ownership of Content
As the conversation continued, panelists suggested programmatic alone will not do the trick. Representing the publisher perspective, Rich Sutton, CRO of TMBI, shared how ensuring a brand safe environment still requires a vetting process involving human intervention.
Sutton explained, “I don't think you can stop problems advertisers are having programmatically with technology. If it [programmatic] doesn't have human intervention, you can't guarantee it will run with brand safe content.”
Brands Have to Stay In the Know
Panelists also pointed to brand marketers as key stakeholders in the journey to conquer brand safety. Panelists agreed that marketers must work with their agencies and ad tech platforms to educate themselves on brand safety and ask the right questions upfront to remain in the know.
Cox suggested, "The real issue on 'fake news' is brands are only asking fundamental questions [about brand safety] now… Technology works, but if you're not asking the right questions or setting the right parameters, it won't work.”
It’s Time to Work Together
As the panel concluded, all participants agreed that it will take a lot more than one player to crack the code on brand safety.
Rasko ended, "There's enough blame to go all around, but to move forward we have to start collaborating. No more finger pointing."
-Kara O'Donnell, Senior Account Executive