Brand Safety Institute debuts to offer new certification programs for digital advertisers

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From the Brand Safety Institute/TAG white paper, “Defining Brand Safety”

In the days of “Mad Men” and before, ads were delivered into fixed placements that were known in advance.

From the Brand Safety Institute/TAG white paper,But these are the days of real-time delivery into millions of dynamic contexts, defined by surrounding content and challenged by viewing conditions. So, advertisers find themselves increasingly concerned that their messages are being compromised by factors they don’t control.

Toward the goal of re-establishing control, a new organization — the Brand Safety Institute — launched this week in Washington, DC.

Formed by Mike Zaneis, CEO of the corporate-focused Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Neal Thurman, director at Coalition for Better Ads (CBA), the organization intends to help define best practices, provide a certification program for the new role of Brand Safety Officer and offer other kinds of supporting education, training and resources.

Zaneis told me that, to his knowledge, this is the first organization solely dedicated to this area.

A key question is what brand safety actually means, and how it differs from, say, the services that TAG or the Coalition already provide.

TAG’s focus is on criminal activities in the ad tech supply chain, Zaneis said, such as the many kinds of fraud.

Brand safety, he noted, overlaps in some ways, because brands don’t want to be associated with fraudulent activities, but it has also “become a catch-all for all these other issues.” Some of the areas that BSI covers but TAG does not, he said, include ad load time, latency, content adjacency or viewability.

The Coalition is targeted toward new standards so that advertising will meet consumers’ expectations, which also overlaps but includes “better ads” metrics that do not directly relate to brand safety.

BSI’s first effort, then, was to work with TAG to define its scope via a free white paper, “Defining Brand Safety.” It boiled down the definition to:

…’Brand Safety’ describes the controls that companies in the digital advertising supply chain employ to protect brands against negative impacts to the brand’s consumer reputation with specific types of content, criminal activity, and/or related loss of return on investment.

The certification program intends to launch in October. The Institute doesn’t yet have a director, Zaneis said, and it is in the process of setting up an advisory committee.

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