Sorry, marketers, but having your ads alongside brand-unsafe content has real costs. It leads to less willingness to associate with the brand, lower purchase intent, and a sharp decline in the perception of brand quality. Put simply, brand safety matters.
The proof comes from a study created by Cheq, Magna, and IPG Media Lab. In a controlled lab setting the study showed over 2,000 participants both safe and unsafe brand exposures, then gathered their feedback.
“We ran controlled tests measuring the branding effectiveness of the same ads across different types of content. More specifically, we measured the effectiveness of the ads next to safe content and compared that to different types of unsafe content,” explains Kara Manatt, senior vice president for intelligence solutions and strategy at Magna Global. “The unsafe content consisted of 1) violent, offensive content, 2) content that is averse to the brand or vertical (e.g. an ad for a soda next to content about diabetes). We learned that ads next to unsafe content are not only less effective, they can even hurt brand perceptions—something many brands spend years building. We also gained great insight into the consumer perspective: Not surprisingly most don’t understand how media is bought and sold, and therefore, they often believe these ad placements are purposeful.”
After seeing brand- and vertical-averse pairings, participants expressed thoughts like “I will stay away from the brand in the future.” They averaged a five percent drop in willingness to associate with the brand. They also showed a seven percent drop in their belief that the brand was one of quality.
The study is essential reading for any brands that pull their campaigns from platforms after brand safety flare-ups, only to go back soon after.
“We’ve seen countless incidents of brands stopping their campaigns for a few days in the past, but these issues will only go away once the industry adopts preemptive and fully autonomous brand safety, which can prevent the damage in real-time, rather than measure it after-the-fact,” says Guy Tytunovich, founder and CEO of Cheq.
Download the full study for free (registration required) to see more results on why brand safety matters.