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The brand safety story is still news in the UK. But while much focus has centered on the role of automated buying in all this, recent data suggests that brand risks associated with programmatic trading aren’t much greater than with direct-sold inventory.
The latest UK edition of Integral Ad Science’s “Media Quality Report” found that the volume of brand safety infractions for all digitally traded ad inventory on its platform stood at 6.8% as of H2 2016, down from 7.8% in H1 2016. On programmatic platforms the total was 6.9%, roughly 1 percentage point higher than for inventory bought directly from publishers, which stood at 5.8%.
Much of the coverage of the recent YouTube debacle centered on the fact that brands were appearing next to extremist content and hate speech. This was then conflated with the role of programmatic trading.
The study by Integral Ad Science, however, found that programmatic’s influence was not only marginal in the debate but also that trading this way was most likely to lead to brand risk infringements related to offensive language. Hate speech infringements on programmatic channels accounted for only 1.7% of flagged content in H2 2016, while offensive language accounted for 35.7% of the total. For publisher-direct-bought ads, hate speech represented only a slightly smaller proportion of the total, at 1.3%.
This data was based on inventory carried via the Integral Ad Science platform, and so may not reflect wider industry trends. Also, any ad appearing in an unsavory environment could be considered one ad too many. Nonetheless, it could be argued that recent reporting on the issue may have been slightly overblown.
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