The state of Brand Safety in the UK

04/29 By Nick Morley
The state of brand safety in the UK

A deep dive into the latest data on brand safety in the UK, based on the H2 2019 Media Quality Report from Integral Ad Science (IAS).

Advertisers are always conscious of the risk their brand may face online. However, as one can imagine, currently they are hyper focused on risk online.

So what does brand risk currently look like in the UK? 

IAS has released its latest Media Quality Report (MQR) for the second half of 2019. After measuring over one trillion media metrics each day, we analyse the data to provide transparency into the performance and quality of UK digital media, alongside global comparisons. This industry barometer can inform ad buyers and sellers on the latest benchmark for campaigns and inventory quality.

Let’s take a deep dive into the latest findings for brand risk – and see how you measure up!

1. Brand risk continues to decrease

The UK remained near the top of the global rankings for the majority of brand risk areas in H2 2019. This continued improvement for risk levels in the UK may be down to the increased use of verification technology and the use of pre-bid filters, helping to reduce risk. 

With an increased focus on brand safety issues across Europe, advertisers have clearly been working with their verification providers to minimise this risk – and it’s working, with nearly all European countries, but France, seeing a decrease in brand risk.

2. UK mobile environment safest in the world

The UK cemented itself as the second-most brand safe environment in the world for mobile web display, with only 3.7% of ads found next to unsafe content. Mobile web display did see a small increase of 0.3 percentage points in H2 2019, compared to the previous half year. However, the UK remained the third safest country for mobile web display brand risk despite this minor drop.

3. Video leads the way in improvement

The UK saw the highest improvement in brand risk for desktop video – an average of 6.4% of total ads were found to appear next to unsafe content, down from more than one in 10 (11.9%) in H2 2018.

The UK was in the top five countries for brand risk on desktop video, coming in at the fourth most brand safe country. The UK’s brand risk was also just above the global average for desktop video, which is great news for this increasingly important channel for advertisers. This improvement may be due to the increase in transparency efforts during 2018 and 2019.

How to lower your brand risk online:

  • Stay up to date with industry benchmarks – Well, you’re reading this, which is a good start! Make sure to check in every half year to ensure you’re au fait with the latest industry benchmarks for the UK – and check in on how your campaigns are performing accordingly.
  • Suitability, not just safety – Ensure you are taking an approach to brand risk that incorporates brand suitability. Suitability is much more than avoiding ad placements alongside obviously inappropriate content – it’s about identifying the places that work for you and your brand to effectively reach the right consumers.
  • Content and Context Control – An ad’s environment has a dramatic impact on how people react to the ad (see the latest IAS research report, The Halo Effect). By employing contextual intelligence tools, such as IAS Context Control, you can ensure your brand appears only adjacent to content that is contextually relevant for your brand.
  • Limit the length of keyword blocklist and refresh often Keywords can seem like an efficient way to ensure your brand does not appear near unsafe content. However, overzealous use can significantly limit scale. Whilst keywords do have a place, revisit your list regularly to refresh and ensure you’re not at risk of overblocking.

Head to the following blog posts for more information on the IAS MQR report, and the topic of brand safety and suitability: