4 Ways to Keep Your Online Brand on the Nice List

According to comScore, the holiday shopping season has been breaking records for e-retailers, with online shoppers in the United States spending over $1.4 billion on Cyber Monday alone. This holiday season, and looking ahead in 2013, could be the year to execute sophisticated online campaigns. However, if you’re a family-driven brand, and worried about protecting your brand image, stop and make some considerations before executing.

A sophisticated targeting campaign always involves some sort of targeting and buying engine, and it has become clear that targeting providers have evolved from manual approaches to automated platforms. However, these platforms can have their challenges. If the platform is not calibrated effectively, your family-driven brand’s reputation may fall off the “nice list” – on an unfavorable site. Because of these risks, some brands still stay away from automated online advertising altogether and continue with the traditional approach of hand-selecting the publishers they believe will reach their key demographics.

The Internet can be a scary place for brands, but fear shouldn’t stop advertisers from exploring the full array of online possibilities to reach new and undiscovered audiences. In this unknown environment, there are several steps that brands can take in order to protect their online reputation and reap the benefits of automation.

Defend yourself from undesirable placements
A rational first step in preparing your online brand is to protect against obviously inappropriate ad placements. Automated systems will do a more thorough job at evaluating the hundreds of thousands of placement options than any manual process can. There are several very effective systems that can conduct a sophisticated analysis to assure your brand is placed aside tasteful content.

Stay away from poor retargeting
Poor brand reputation also comes with un-insightful retargeting. If you run the same ad to the same consumer repeatedly, showing the consumer a product or service they are not interested in is as damaging as a poor outlet choice, or poor timing of a particular article.

Know how to identify red flags
A logical next step in preparing your online brand is to recognize the red flags when it comes to online automation. In this context, it’s necessary to look more broadly than brand safety and learn to flag what may affect your brand’s reputation. There’s more to brand reputation than protecting against the vulgar and obscene, it’s also about having your brand appear in bad taste.

Take context into consideration
Many automation engines will evaluate a placement based on a particular news outlet and/or demographic, but not take contextual information into account. As a result, while CNN.com might be fine for your target audience most of the time, an ad for a squirt gun will look distasteful when paired with an article on the war in Afghanistan.

Brands that are ready to move from manually selecting where their ads are placed and take the plunge into automated online marketing need to explore technology options that have a sophisticated way of curating and evaluating numerous sources of information. The technology should not just place the ads and target the “who”, but should consider the full picture—who, when, where and how.

At the end of the day, brands should be thinking of brand safety as the proper precautions before an exciting trip into the world of online advertising. It’s important to experience new and exciting places, but it’s always a good idea to do your research and refer to a trusted partner. Brands that have a full picture of brand safety and potential pitfalls can integrate their online approach, in order to guarantee their image is upheld and safe – especially during family-friendly shopping seasons.

Eric Bosco is the COO at ChoiceStream