LONDON — Advertisers tempted to dodge advertising in coronavirus news during the pandemic should use technology to precisely spec-out which kinds of content they are comfortable with.

That’s the view of a specialist programmatic ad adviser to the advertising community.

Early in the pandemic, it became clear that a large number of advertisers were using brand safety tools’ keyword blacklist features to simply ignore advertising against stories deemed to be about the virus, believing it to be a negative association.

Much research has since found readers are actually craving virus news and don’t think negatively of brands that place next to it.

Buyers are responsible

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Gurman Hundal, co-founder  and CEO of MiQ, says: “I think the responsibility there is on the buy side.

“The job of a news publisher is to create content that engages the user and ultimately the user then spends time on that website and that becomes a value that the buyer gets – they get a volume of users who are engaged.

“But then the buyer must – with their service provider, the agency or the managed service programmatic player that’s helping them on that campaign – be involved in setting the criteria of what they deem appropriate for their brand.

“The technology exists. They can add all the parameters. That needs to be added from the buy side before you even go live with the campaign. And then that ultimately adds the protection for the actual advertiser.”

Brand safety evolves

“Brand safety” concerns reared their head several years ago when many brands discovered their automatically-bought ads were appearing next to unsavoury content.

But now some of the tools designed to mitigate that are also being used for some seemingly-odd goals. Many brands are choosing not to appear against some of the most-consumed news content in years.

Now many in the industry are trying to reach a more refined understanding of “brand safety”, to accept that news is fundamentally safe but that particular kinds of news need accurate, granular descriptions in buying platforms.

Hundal says: “The technology exists to make sure that protection for the brand is there. The brand and their service partners need to put the work in to understand, ‘Okay, what criteria do we need to set that gives us a safety there?’, but the tech’s there to do that and ultimately it’s down to the buy side.”

This video is part of a series titled Brand Suitability at the Forefront, presented by Integral Ad Science.  For more segments from the series, please visit this page.