MediaMath Says ‘Programmatic Brand Safety or You Don’t Pay’

“Brand safety” is becoming the digital ad buzzword of 2017, just like “viewability” was the year before. And good reason, too: Over 250 advertisers deserted YouTube earlier this year after a report by the Times of London showed ads were appearing on videos from hate groups. If YouTube couldn’t control its inventory, what hope was there from programmatic sellers?

Now one of those marketplaces is backing up its brand safety promise with a cash guarantee. Programmatic ad company MediaMath, which works with video, display, and social ads, has launched Curated Market, a product that promises access to quality media at scale. Curated Market includes two parts: First, a cross-device component that reaches viewers wherever they happen to be, and second, an inventory of high-quality brand-safe media. The company says Curated Market works only with transparent validated URLs, uses a dynamic block list of banned content, and excludes most user-generated content.

To ensure that Curated Market’s inventory is safe, MediaMath is partnering with multiple third-party verification platforms to filter it, including Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify, and Peer39.

Now for that guarantee: If mistakes happen and advertisers find their ads placed on unsafe inventory, they’ll be given a refund for those impressions. There’s a little wiggle room in the writing: MediaMath says ads must have run on inventory “previously determined unsafe,” and there’s no mention of how brands could monitor each URL where ads were run. The credit extends only to views on unsafe content, not whole campaigns.

Still, it shows that programmatic is getting serious about brand safety guarantees. In beta tests for Curated Market, MediaMath says one major U.S. retailer saw a 50 percent reduction in costs per action (CPAs) and a 3x response rate improvement compared to open auctions, while an online TV provider achieved a 40 percent increase in unique reach.

“The Curated Market offering provides transparency and hygiene in execution and reporting, audience addressability at scale, and accountability for actors in the digital ecosystem across all channels,” says Joe Zawadzki, chairman and CEO of MediaMath, “It will change the way marketers think about buying ads.”


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