Tag Archives: branding

What happens when Google pushes into branding and messaging?

As Google elbows its way further into PPC branding, columnist Pauline Jakober discusses the drawbacks of automating tasks that impact messaging and branding.

The post What happens when Google pushes into branding and messaging? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Why brands should care about brand safety in mobile advertising

Easily spotted on the mobile web: holiday ad next to plane crash story; ?Muslim dating ad next to KKK story; beauty ad next to domestic violence story; car ad next to emissions scandal story…

[This post originally appeared on our sister site ClickZ.com, but we thought it was so useful we wanted to share it here as well]

Let?s admit it we?ve all had an occasional giggle when we spot an ad prominently displayed next to inappropriate content on the web. But for advertisers this is no laughing matter.

An ad that is not displayed in a contextually appropriate environment is not only a waste of marketing budget, but is a potential embarrassment (if shared on social media) or, at worst, damaging to the brand?s reputation.

Research by inMobi (via eMarketer), July 2016, highlighted in this column on mobile ad fraud ?reveals that 26% of advertisers state that concerns over brand safety is preventing the take up of programmatic purchasing (buying ads on the fly via an ad exchange) of mobile inventory.

While this is considerably less than the 48% concerned about fraud/viewability, this is surely a matter the industry needs to address.

The examples pictured in this column were easily found on the mobile web. Try it yourself by selecting potentially controversial stories and waiting to see what ad loads (often ads load slower than the content).

The sites we have featured are not implicitly ?toxic?, such as pornography or gambling, but prominent news outlets where some stories will deal with unpleasant matters from time to time.

No one would want these news stories to go unreported. But that doesn?t mean that a holiday company wants its ad next to a plane crash story; a baby food brand ad next to a child sex abuse story; a Muslim dating service ad next to a KKK story; a beauty ad next to a domestic violence story or a car ad next to a story on the emissions scandal.

The ad business calls this brand safety or content adjacency. The issue is a real one.

But preventing brand safety issues has become increasingly complicated because:

  • Direct relationships between advertiser and publisher have increasingly been replaced by a web of intermediaries including ad exchanges and ad networks companies.
  • Many sites are implicitly safe, but publish eclectic content that could any subject ? i.e. news sites or news stories/user generated content (UGC) on social media sites.
  • Keeping track of ads displayed on mobile sites and ? particularly ? mobile apps presents a unique set of challenges, compared with desktop web.

As Kurt Hawks,?SVP of cross device and video at digital ad targeting specialist Conversant, explains:

Mobile ad tech is still maturing and while the mobile web operates similarly to desktop display, the in-app environment is a very different and more complex tech ecosystem. A rise in the intermediaries needed to execute in-app has resulted in a more fragmented digital supply chain that is more difficult to monitor.

Text, image and video-based analysis have gotten more adept at assessing brand fit within webpages, but a lack of mobile standardization, particularly in the in-app environment, can hinder the effectiveness of these tools. For example, the VPAID?(Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition) standard is still not universally supported within in-app environments yet.

This is the forth in our series of columns on mobile ad quality: see also:

  1. Mobile ad fraud?
  2. ?Combatting mobile ad fraud
  3. Mobile ad viewability

Brand safety issues easily found on the mobile web

Let?s take a look at some examples of what appears to be untargeted ads appearing next to stories on three mainstream news sites: Inquisitr, Washington Post and The Mirror; and/or via Google?s AMP (accelerated mobile pages) search results.

Please note that brand safety is subjective, we can only guess that the brand, the viewer and the publisher would deem these contexts inappropriate.

  1. It is hard to imagine many mainstream advertisers wishing to be associated with a story about a man being arrested for murder, a KKK march in favor of Donald Trump?s victory, or pictured above a picture of a KKK ceremony. There were plenty of examples spotted on various journals ? but this was the most controversial: a Muslim dating site alongside this INQUISITR story.
  1. Are stories of funerals or air crashes ever a good context for advertisers? But surely no travel brand would wish to be pushing overseas holidays against the backdrop of a funeral of the president of a football club wiped out in an air disaster as spotted alongside this Washington Post story.
  1. Child sex abuse is also a topic that most advertisers would consider toxic, but a brand, particularly one of the magnitude of Heinz is will be questioning how an ad for baby meals ended up topping this Daily Mirror story??about alleged child sex abuse at Chelsea Football Club.

Just to be certain, we checked the stories pictured in this column with Melody Gambino, director of marketing at brand safety expert, Grapeshot:

Every one of these examples is poignant. The key to brand safety is not only ensuring you don’t put your advertisement in front of bots or on spam sites, but also that the content surrounding your ad is not offensive. This can be in a broad sense (terrorism) or something specific to your brand (emissions testing for VW, for example).

But no one can say for certain what is considered brand safe or not except the advertiser, explains Melody Gambino

Brand safety means different things for every brand and every campaign, so clarity about what it means for you is imperative to ensure you are getting the most from your brand safety partners.?

Defining brand safety

In the useful New Rules of Brand Safety, ?Grapeshot gives the following definition for brand safety:

The term ?brand safety? is notionally understood. It represents an environment that is fundamentally not hostile, will not cause perceptions of uncomfortable association or, worse, spur unwelcome sharing or commenting.

The costs of an error in this arena can mount quickly, from the need to craft defensive counter-messaging to lost sales. Only after the fact does the degree of damage become clear.

Dirty dozen of toxic content categories:

There are 12 different content categories which, according to the report, tend to be considered toxic and are routinely excluded by agencies and brand safety tools. These are adult, arms, crime, death or injury, online privacy, hate speech, military conflict, obscenity, illegal drugs, spam or harmful site, terrorism and tobacco.

Why brands should care about brand safety in mobile advertising


Based on these criteria, the three stories pictured above ? the KKK organizer?s arrest, the Chapeco funeral and the Chelsea abuse allegations ? all appear to fail the toxic test.

Presumably a rape story, even when associated a classic film such as Last Tango in Paris, is deemed toxic content. But should it be considered universally inappropriate for all brands?

The following ads have no contextual relevance to the film or the news story, but is this an association that charities or luxury brands should avoid? N.B. if you perform a mobile or online search on this story, you will find plenty of other examples, these are not isolated cases:

Why brands should care about brand safety in mobile advertising

Targeted or untargeted?

Advertisers attempt to improve the impact of ads by targeting the ads at visitors based on the publisher, the visitor, their location, and contextual relevance of the story using keywords, images and metatags.

There is little evidence targeting in the Last Tango rape story, but the following three examples suggest contextual targeting at its most unfortunate.

Why brands should care about brand safety in mobile advertising

  1. The Volkswagen emissions story isn?t a universally toxic topic ? but it is one that auto manufacturers, such as VW, should and do seek to avoid. The ad targeting software appears to have picked up on the keyword ?Volkswagen? on this Chicago Tribune story to serve up ads for a VW leasing service. Unfortunately the ad targeting failed to pick out the word ?emissions?, so did not put the break on the ad.
  1. In the second example, the ad targeting seems to pick out the keywords ?makeup tutorial? in this Mediaite story?to serve up an ad for a Beauty app and a recruitment ad for models. To a computer this will look like a good opportunity, but no beauty brand will want to be associated with the use of makeup to hide domestic violence.
  1. It is unlikely that the CBC house ad ?Holiday like you mean it? is contextually targeted at?this story 3 about drug use by Hitler and Nazi Army, but a reader would be forgiven for thinking so.

How brand safety works

There are two key methods for avoiding brand safety issues:

  • Blocking websites/URLs that are known to contain contentious material.
  • Detecting context from keywords either a) pre-bid, preventing the ad space being purchased at the exchange) or, where not possible, b) post-bid, where the ad is blocked from appearing on the page.

The first approach relies on agencies maintaining vast blacklists (and whitelists) of websites. Ad technology then blocks the ads from displaying on these blacklisted sites. The problem with this method is that it assumes that all content on blacklisted sites is bad for business and all content on whitelisted sites is good for business ? which as we have seen above is not the case.

The second approach is more complicated. Ad quality/verification software, from vendors such as Integral Ad Science and Meetrics scan websites for possible issues for advertisers.

Jason Cooper, general manager, mobile at Integral Ad Science, tells how it works:

When web pages load they are requesting content from all across the Internet; text, copy, images, advertising content, tracking and analytics pixels among others. In each one of these requests, a little tout runs ahead declaring the page that is making the request; by intercepting that call, a verification vendor can decide whether that page meets the brand safety threshold of an advertiser before allowing the ad to serve.

However, apps don’t send URL’s, in fact identifying the app name requires a number of different strategies and is something that will be solved incrementally over time.

Issues with mobile (apps)

One advantage of native apps, is that they are scanned ? particularly with the Apple Store ? for malicious code and inappropriate content, before being admitted to the apps stores. However this does not take account of individual stories, user generated content or content pulled in from third party sites. Unfortunately, as native apps use proprietary code, rather than the web technologies, the web-based (JavaScript) scanning techniques used by the verification vendors is ineffective.

Felix Badura,?director product development at Meetrics, explains:

It is not possible to apply state-of-the-art brand safety technology to the in-app environment due to technical limitations with regard to the interplay of native code (e.g. Java, Swift) and web code (HTML, JavaScript) inside the webview container that actually displays the ad.

Due to the fact, that native apps and content loaded via a webview cannot exchange information, JavaScript based ad verification for instance cannot scan the content of the app on the fly.

Tips and common mistakes with brand safety

  • Don?t assume that because you are buying ad space on a known app it will be safe for your brand. Apps don’t need to be porn free to tick the box of ‘safe’. An article about performance enhancing drug scandals next to Reebok or Nike ads can be equally as damaging. ? Melody Gambino, Grapeshot.
  • Brands must be especially vigilant and engage vendors that have robust brand safety capabilities (semantic analysis of text; tags; imagery and tonality of web pages and apps; video-level data), but must also ensure these partners are capable of handling the nuances of brand safety in-app. ? Kurt Hawks,
  • Only serve ads via the big marketers like AdMob or MoPub and keeping the pressure high on insisting to have a third party measuring the data. ? Felix Badura,
  • While it is a good idea, to retrieve and analyse the Package names of the apps where an ad is running, one should be aware that even problematic apps might be uploaded using inconspicuous names to stay below the radar. ? Felix Badura, Meetrics.

This is Part 39 of the?ClickZ??DNA of mobile-friendly web? series.

Here are the recent ones:


Andy Favell is ClickZ columnist on mobile. He is a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor.

Contact him via LinkedIn ?or Twitter @Andy_Favell.


How neuroscience can help increase engagement with mobile users

Emotion can be very powerful when trying to reach an audience, and it can be boosted by linking it with the way memory affects human behaviour. How can all of this apply to the demanding mobile audience?

It’s not easy to be effective with the ever-increasing mobile audience, but emotion along with memory can contribute to a more meaningful relationship between a brand and a target user.

Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, talked to Integrated Live about the way neuroscience can boost marketing efforts towards a mobile audience, provided that there is the right understanding of what makes a successful connection.

As people become more attached to their smartphones, marketing needs to be adjusted to build trust between a brand and a consumer – and neuroscience can be helpful in this journey.

Five ways to activate brains in a mobile world

It’s about triggering, not brand-building

People are building a unique connection with their mobile phones, and that’s what makes them powerful triggering devices.

However, it’s not easy for a brand to reach a consumer, but it may be helpful to aim for an association that could affect the future purchasing decisions.

As Heather Andrew mentioned, we all have a “brand room” in our heads, where we store all the information we receive from brands. These may be the popular brands that make an instant impact even with their logos.

There may also be room for brands that we haven’t built the right association yet and it may take a harder effort to reach this dark room through the use of the right triggers.

Advertising can help illuminate these rooms and build the connection that will make the future purchase easier. The use of emotion along with memory can make advertising more effective and even the branding on the logo and the user experience may affect a user’s reaction to a trigger.

Source: Marketing Society

It’s not about shouting loudest

A successful branded message on mobile devices doesn’t have to be over-promotional, as this doesn’t usually work with users. A mobile device is personal, which means that users become more demanding with the communication they receive.

Thus, a brand needs to be informative, relevant and appealing. Even the use of the logo has to be subtle to increase the chances of grabbing the users’ attention. In a world full of shouting for marketing purposes, the mobile audience needs a connection to trust a brand and spend the necessary amount of time to process a branded message.

Make it personal

A branded message cannot get through the noise without being relevant for the users. Our brains create an association between a message and a personal experience, which facilitates the process of creating a trigger.

Engagement can be easier if a message appeals to a relevant context for its audience and this is even more important when marketing reaches more “personal” devices, like our smartphones.

For example, Heather Andrew mentioned that Samsung is occasionally trying to target iPhone users without luck, although a particular ad they created for Samsung Galaxy S5 worked surprisingly well. It was an ad for Samsung Glaxy S5 and it tapped to the common battery problem for iPhone users, trying to link emotions with a behaviour to store the data into their memory and make an impression.

This is an interesting part all new marketing campaigns should consider, always having in mind their target audience.

Deliver emotional intensity

It has been observed that the level of emotional intensity affects the level of engagement among messages on mobile phones.

This may be helpful for brands trying to understand why they need to create more relevant, personal and emotionally appealing messages when trying to approach their target audience.

How neuroscience can help increase engagement with mobile users

Source: Marketing Society

Drive physical interaction

It’s not just about the emotional appeal when delivering branded messages, as physical interaction may also be useful. According to Neuro-Insight, the ads with the highest level of interaction elicited responses 10% greater than other ads.

If physical interaction can be combined with relevance then engagement may be easier, involving the audience on the actual message in the best possible way.

Time to “furnish” the brand room

It’s not easy to “furnish” the brand room in people’s heads, but it’s also an interesting process to consider when crafting your next marketing campaign.

We don’t have to be experts in neuroscience to realise how emotion and memory can enhance the users’ reactions to a mobile message.

It’s all about relevance and it may be helpful to think like a consumer. What would make you pay attention to a marketing message?

Wix Challenges SEOs To Outrank Them For SEO Hero

The folks at Wix have had some hiccups with Google over the years, which made their brand known as a not so SEO friendly platform. To combat that negative branding, Wix launched a contest where if you outrank them for the term [seo hero] in Google, they will give you $50…


What makes social videos so effective?

As video content in social media increases, how can brands use it more effectively?

Video consumption is on the rise and while users enjoy it, brands face the challenge of creating more effective video ads to stand out in the overcrowded social feeds.

How do you measure the effectiveness of a video in social media and what makes it appealing in just a few seconds?

IPG Media Lab partnered with Twitter to examine how social video works and we are highlighting the most interesting points from the report.

In-feed, auto play video for relevance and trust

Auto play video ads that show up in a curated feed are considered more relevant, trustworthy and non-intrusive, comparing to skippable pre-roll ads.

People seem to feel that relevant ads are less intrusive, which highlights the importance of targeting the right audience before delivering an ad to their feeds.

The better the targeting, the less annoyed people will be.

Social video boost brand favourability

As in-feed video ads gain users’ trust, they are also more likely to increase the brand’s favourability, even with a single exposure to them.

Social videos seem to have greater impact compared to skippable pre-roll ads, despite the shorter time spent on them.

This means that brands need to capture immediately the audience’s attention and deliver the best message from the very first seconds. It may be challenging, but it also leads to an increased ad recall.

What makes social videos so effective?

Viewability increases ad recall and awareness

Viewability, or else time in view, marks whether a video is interesting enough to appeal to the audience. The first three seconds seem to be important, as they serve as the critical point where users decide whether they should keep watching a video.

Thus, a brand has to be creative in less than three seconds to ensure that it captures the viewers’ attention. The longer the view, the higher the awareness and the ad recall.

What makes social videos so effective?

Telling story early

As the first three seconds of a video are crucial, a brand should invest in a powerful message that is transmitted from the very first second.

An early story arc may be more persuasive if it conveys the right information as it can create the right context for the rest of the video. What’s more, ad recall may be easier, linking the brand with the story.

What makes social videos so effective?

The impact of branding

There may be a general consensus on how excessive branding can negatively affect a brand’s content, but this is not necessarily true for social videos.

When you have a few seconds to explain the aim of the video, heavy branding may be useful, as it manages to create the necessary association between the story and the brand.

The goal of every video is to improve a brand’s awareness of a brand, or even to boost ad recall and if heavier branding can facilitate this process from the very beginning, then it may be a good idea to try it out.

What makes social videos so effective?


Video content is becoming popular, but its metrics still evolve, so every marketer should understand how videos differ from other types of content and how they should be measured.

Social videos will only grow more more popular, which means that it’s important to define the right KPIs that will make them useful as part of your marketing strategy.

Keep in mind:

  • In-feed, auto-play videos are preferred by users, as they find them less intrusive. This is a useful way to build trust around your brand.
  • Always target the right people to increase the relevance of your content
  • Don’t be afraid to include heavy branding in shorter videos. It might turn out beneficial for your content.
  • Tell a story with a clear message. The first seconds are very important.

After all, you can still monitor the latest trends in video marketing and examine how they can be personalised to work in your own campaigns.


How to Build a Bigger Brand Online with Christina Baldassarre

In this episode of Marketing Nerds, Christina Baldassarre of Zebra Advertisement joins Caitlin Rulien to talk about how to build a bigger brand online. They take a look at why branding matters, as well as tips we can apply when working on our own website and personal branding.

The post How to Build a Bigger Brand Online with Christina Baldassarre appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Know Your Audience: A Guide to Voice and Content Creation by @a_shostak

Before you begin any content creation, whether you’re branding your own blog or helping a new client, you need to know the audience you’re writing for.

The post Know Your Audience: A Guide to Voice and Content Creation by @a_shostak appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

How to Brand Yourself Consistently

The self-discovery process inherent in creating a branding and marketing strategy can help you to streamline your professional services and goals.

The post How to Brand Yourself Consistently appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Business names start showing in AdWords Call Only ads

Branding in the headlines should please advertisers.

The post Business names start showing in AdWords Call Only ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

10 tips for building a local brand that will boost your local search ranking

Branding is often viewed as the domain of large national businesses. Yet small businesses will benefit from branding strategically on a local level. Columnist Wesley Young takes a look at ways to boost your profile and your page rank with local branding strategies.

The post 10 tips for building a…

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