Brand Suitability at the IAB UK Digital Trust Forum

02/13 By Nick Morley


In January 2020 the IAB UK held their first ever Digital Trust Forum. The event aimed to bring the industry together to discuss trust and transparency in the world of digital advertising. The day was packed with insight, intellect and information from an array of wonderful speakers. The resounding message was for the industry to improve collaboration, increase transparency and take charge with brand suitability. 

I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak at the event, which was held at the iconic British Museum. The British Museum, located in central London, has hosted the famous Rosetta Stone since 1802 – that feels almost as long as we have been discussing the issue of trust in advertising, the very topic I chose to speak about.

Today’s issue.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer research highlighted just how important a role trust plays in purchase decisions, with 81% of consumers saying trust is a deal breaker when choosing to buy from a brand – and yet a mere third actually trust the brands they buy and use. Technology has sadly played a role here, with brand safety concerns, such as appearing near inappropriate or irrelevant content, in particular contributing to consumer’s slow, but sure, growing lack of trust towards brands who appear online. 

The impact of mistrust?

The latest data our IAS’ Ripple Effect study found 68% of UK consumers hold brands accountable for content that appears next to ads, whilst a massive 70% would completely stop using a brand that appeared near low quality content. Brands have certainly listened to the concerns from consumers, inputting brand safety strategies, including keyword lists, to ensure their brands do not appear near harmful content. However, some brands have been overzealous with their keyword blocking strategies and have not kept them to date. The result? Brands miss opportunities and waste impressions, whilst publishers miss out on monetized inventory.

Resolving this crisis.

Brand suitability can be the hero, here. Instead of taking a binary approach to brand safety, a contextually driven, brand suitability approach means brands appear in contextually relevant places and can positively target content, as opposed to taking a solely combative approach. The IAB UK recently launched their Content Verification Guide, which IAS contributed to, outlining how brand suitability represents a new gold standard of advertising. We encourage the whole industry to read this and adapt your brand safety approach accordingly. 

And so, to conclude, whilst it may seem as if we have been talking about brand safety for a while, it is an important conversation and one that will not go away. Our 2020 Industry Pulse report found that 55% of people are choosing brand safety and suitability as one of their tactics for minimising media quality concerns. To improve the industry’s approach to brand safety, we must lead with brand suitability. Safety will always remain at the core of protection strategies, but suitability combines protection WITH customisation. Safety is what’s best for everyone, whereas suitable is what’s best for you.

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