Following the revelation that ads for the Guardian newspaper had been placed next to extremist material, Google has announced additional security measures to protect businesses online. On their Adwords blog the company recognises the potential threats posed to brands if their ads are shown next to offensive or undesirable content. As a result, Google has reviewed its policies regarding “hateful, offensive and derogatory content” and is making changes to ensure online advertising remains safe and ethical for everyone.

What is Google promising?

  • Higher Standards for Ads

More effective removal of ads that show content which attacks people based on categories such as race, religion and gender. This change also covers the YouTube Partner Program to ensure that ads only show against creators who abide by community guidelines, which will also be subject to review.

  • Increased Brand Safety and Control

New tools to help brands manage their ads placements more effectively. These include safer default settings, account-level controls (including the ability to exclude specific sites from campaigns), and more fine-tuned controls to allow advertisers more control over ad placements.

  • Increased Resources and Improved Transparency

Expanded video-level reporting, developing new tools powered by AI and machine learning, and a drive in personnel recruitment all hint at a more streamlined process for reporting ads which are served in the wrong places. A new escalation path is planned to help advertisers raise these issues more easily, so that they can be resolved within a matter of hours!

What can advertisers do to protect brands online?

Advertisers need to be proactive in their use of these new features if they are to ensure brand safety online. The following steps are crucial in preventing ads from showing next to undesirable content:

  • Use Negative Placements – Creating a list of known negative sites will exclude ads from showing on these sites.
  • Use Negative Keywords – Similarly, a list of negative keywords will exclude sites which display undesirable content.
  • Use Category Exclusions – Sites on the Google Display Network are categorised by the content they serve against. Excluding undesirable topics will prevent ads from showing on these sites. It is also possible to exclude sites which have not yet been categorised.
  • Review Your Placements (Regularly!) – Checking up on where ads are showing helps to ensure that they are only showing against acceptable content. Continuing to blacklist negative sites will also increase campaign performance as more non-converting sites are excluded! 
  • Consider Using Verification Software – Third party software can be an effective way to monitor the content which ads are being served against.

 

Google’s new measures should be implemented quickly to ensure brand misplacement happens as little as possible and to retain the trust which advertisers place in Google services. However, advertisers must also take responsibility for their own ads and be proactive in their management. Only with a combined effort from both Google and the advertiser can the highest level of online brand safety be achieved.

Helen Freeman