IAB Ireland publisher members launch Guide to Brand Safety


Brand safety is not a new concept. It is a suite of tools and approaches which have evolved over the past 30 years, dating back to the earliest ads on the internet. At that point in time, brand safety was a simple exercise where a brand, in collaboration with their publisher partner, would decide where their ads should and should not appear.

IAB Europe’s Quality & Transparency Task Force defines Brand Safety as follows:

‘Brand Safety describes the practices and tools that are put in place to ensure that a digital advertising campaign will not appear next to any content that is illegal (e.g. drug related content) or dangerous (e.g. pornography or violence). It should be applied to every campaign to protect a brand’s reputation and not fund any illegal or dangerous content providers.’  

Brand Suitability brings an additional layer of brand safety controls to ensure that a digital advertising campaign appears against content that is deemed appropriate for the brand.

Brand Safety strategies range from ‘keyword blocklists’ to ‘contextual targeting’ and ‘semantic brand suitability filtering’.  However in many scenarios, the brand safety/suitability controls actually block ads from appearing next to legitimate and suitable and often desirable content.

For publishers this limits the ability to monetize their content and, for brands it can negatively impact the performance and reach of their online advertising.

Research undertaken by IAB Ireland’s Publisher Council found that some Brand Safety controls can block between 52% and 78% of their content depending on how they are used.

This guide, written by our publishers and partners,  is designed to help Brands consider their Brand Safety strategies and consider if they are fit for purpose in the ever evolving digital advertising ecosystem.   The Guide includes the unintended consequences of some brand safety strategies, examples of content being blocked, best practices for Brand suitability, advice on tailoring your strategy, protecting your brand reputation and choosing suitable partners. 

You can download the Guide here.

We hope you find it useful!

Many thanks to our Contributors:

Chris Gordon, Head of Digital Ad Operations, Mediahuis

Doug Farrell, Group Head of Digital Strategy, dmg media

David Murphy, Head of Digital Media Solutions, The Irish Times

Ian Maxwell, CEO & Co-Founder, Converge Digital

Padraig Sugrue, Group Sales Director, Reach plc

Sarah Downey, Media Operations Manager, Packed.House

Thomas Fanning, Digital Solutions Manager, News Ireland