When a CEO Chooses Brand Safety Over Revenue
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Companies are in the business of making money. The CEO’s of those companies are responsible for making a profit. They are also in the business of leading a company that builds public trust. In the world of business, your brand is what people feel about your company. It seems like common sense but the bigger your brand becomes, the more you can demand for your product.
For example, when you are shopping for running shoes, you will see Nike, Adidas, and a few others that you instantly trust. You have not touched the shoe. You have not tried on the shoe. You simply know that is the shoe you want. That is the power of their brand.
Advertising and Marketing
We have established that a CEO is in the business of convincing people to buy their products. When a company is ready to tell the public about their product or service, they rely on marketing and advertising to get the word out.
They identify their target audience, craft their messaging and pitch, and develop a plan to reach the right people at the right time.
In the past, they relied on quality publications, radio, television, and billboards to do this. But, they had control. Marketers were able to choose the exact type of person most likely to become a customer and used advertising to convince them that their product or service was the right solution. With so few platforms for an audience to consume content, it was easy for advertisers to select the right vehicle to deliver their message.
Times have changed thanks, in part, to digital-marketing.
When Advertising, Consider Brand Safety
Imagine for a moment that your brand was your personal name and address. When a television show features a sex scene, a drug addict shooting up, or a man’s head exploding in a gunfight; would you like the commercial break to say “Come see John Smith, in Tulsa, Oklahoma!”? When a song (or video) comes on with cursing, violence or drug use, would you like to hear, “That hit new hit was brought to you by John Smith of Tulsa!”? No, of course not. Any, and every, type of content is available on the internet, for better or worse. This includes sexually explicit ads that often objectify and degrade people; especially women.
As a marketer, you want to reach the right target audience for maximum return on your investment, but you also do not want your brand associated with content that will harm your brand.
We’ve all seen them. The click-bait and overly-sexualized ads that show up on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or even on some major publisher sites delivered through ad network like Google, Outbrain or Taboola. The images and headlines are meant to entice audiences into clicking, and they often include photos of women in bikinis, or shirtless men selling some low-brow product.
Revenue Over Brand Safety
There is a good reason that these types of ads are so prominent, clicks result in revenue. But what if companies focused on user experience instead of the bottom line. The only way to eliminate concerns of brand safety is to work with companies willing to put the greater good over revenue.
An Ad Network With Some Backbone
Earlier this year John Lemp, CEO and Founder of Revcontent, decided to turn away potential revenue completely banning sexually explicit content from his advertising network that serves billions of impressions monthly to some of the world’s largest brands.
The move was endorsed and supported by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, one of the leading organizations in fighting sexual exploitation, especially in marketing and media.
As a Christian and father of two young girls, Lemp was shocked to find the scale of sexual exploitation, abuse, and degrading content that appeared in the networks throughout his industry.
The problem was not going to go away unless companies like Revcontent were willing to say no to revenue to make digital marketing a cleaner space. Since the decision, other content recommendation networks have faced criticism for delivering sexually explicit content to publisher sites like the NY Daily News and Business Insider.
Normally this type of clean-up would have a negative impact on the amount of revenue an ad network can provide, but Revcontent recently announced a program called AutomaticRev that guarantees a revenue uplift for any publisher who wants to test them out.
A rare instance where the right decision for the company was also the right decision for its clients.
Revcontent - If We Are Going to Clean It Up, Let’s Clean It Up!
How many times have you clicked on something on social media or in a Google search only to realize that the information was false? Fake news and how to police it has become a hot topic for platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, because of how many people access a piece of fake news through their vast audiences. The issue with fake news also extended to ad networks who deliver revenue to publisher sites through advertising. Should an ad network like Revcontent be responsible for determining if a piece of content if fake? Should they remove any financial incentive associated with fake news?
Revcontent decided they had to do their part to remove the financial incentive for misinformation, so they decided to follow the model they set to address sexually explicit content, by finding an expert.
The Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network is a collection of independent fact checkers who help inform the general public about news stories that are false.
Revcontent revised its policies to ensure that if a publisher posted fake news and it was flagged by two fact checkers, that Revcontent would remove its ads from that page and would withhold any revenue generated from that content.
Instead of censoring entire publishers or ignoring the issue completely, Lemp and his team attacked the brand safety concern head-on, by disincentivizing the fake news itself. Lemp, and others know that as long as the internet continues to grow, there will continue to be brand safety concerns, but unless they are addressed we will not see any improvement in the industry or the trust that people have for the brands they know and love.
Making Brand Safe Decisions
You have spent a lot of time and effort in building your business and developing a strong brand. Before you decide where to promote your business and products, assess all potential risks and choose your partners and platforms based on their actions and commitment to brand safety. Your success depends on it.