If you attended Cannes Lions 2017 then you will have heard discussion on the recent brand safety news; whether it was on a panel, on a yacht or walking down La Croisette sipping rosé. Unilever’s CMO, Keith Weed, has been voicing his concerns for the industry to move forward and address its brand safety challenges. On a panel at Cannes, when asked whether the response from brands to the current brand safety issues was overblown, Weed said, “It’s up to them. I think everyone was quick to say, ‘bad YouTube, bad Google’, when perhaps they should have said ‘am I buying media as I should?’”
Weed’s point highlights that the brand safety conversation has now evolved. The advertising industry started off angry and finger pointing, but as we learn more about the challenges we face, talk has turned to how we all can help to solve the problem.
People have begun to realise that brand safety is not a new topic; it’s recurrent and flares up over the years. With the recent political unrest in the US and UK we have seen a greater shift in the relationship between brands, consumers and politics. The advance of social media has resulted in consumers bringing brands into the conversations that we see in news cycles.
As such, brands need to ensure more than ever, that they are keeping up-to-date with the news. Not only to remain in touch with their consumers, but also to ensure that they are updating negative keyword lists and adjusting their brand safety strategy to stay current with the news cycle and avoid their brand potentially being associated with negative content.
Alongside brand safety, fake news featured as another hot topic at Cannes. Fake news, although relatively new to the advertising industry, has proved to be a major challenge for advertisers who have found themselves unwillingly funding fake news sites. This has led to consumers viewing brands as funding misinformation. Fake news will continue to be widely discussed as the industry seeks to find apt solutions to this more multifaceted challenge.
So, what could Cannes 2018 hold in store? Brand safety is a topic that continues to resurface and will likely be on next year’s agenda. Hopefully by 2018, the digital advertising industry will have gained more insight, and put in place more comprehensive solutions to allow brands to advertise without concern that their advertising will appear next to unsavoury content. One guarantee for Cannes 2018; there will still be yachts, rosé and late night revelries.