Why You Should Care about Brand Safety in Connected TV Advertising


It has become increasingly clear that Connected TV (CTV) advertising is the next big thing in digital advertising. In fact, in 2022, CTV viewership in the US grew to 213 million with more than one billion hours of content streamed every week! Plus, a Leichtman Research Group survey declared that 82 percent of TV households now have at least one connected TV device. And while such a rapid rise in audiences is an exciting prospect for marketers, we must remain cautious of brand safety and brand suitability issues across the CTV and OLV landscape.

Illustration of The Growth in Connected TV Ad Spend

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In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of brand safety in connected TV advertising and what you can do to ensure your ads are protected on CTV media buys. ‍

What is Brand Safety and Why Does it Matter?

Before we begin, let's quickly define what we mean by "brand safety." The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines "brand safety" as "keeping a brand's reputation safe when they advertise online." In the simplest terms, "brand safety" is just taking measures to ensure that your brand messaging appears against content that is not harmful in any way.

For example, a new airline will avoid content about a plane crash, a dessert company ad will not want to appear next to an article about diabetes and more generally, all brands will wish to keep their messaging away from hate speech and explicit content online.

Lack of Brand Safety in the CTV Landscape

Brands and marketers are struggling with a lack of transparency concerning exactly what they are buying in CTV environments. With no industry-wide brand safety protocols put in place, ad buyers do not always have access to which shows, episodes or connected tv inventory on which their ads will run.

According to Adweek, as of now, there is no publicly available URL information for CTV content that contains all the necessary information needed to deem its safety for any buyer purchasing ad space. Plus, publishers are hesitant to give up valuable information about their inventory to prevent advertisers from hand-picking content which is ultimately leading to more fragmentation and confusion in the CTV space.

Simply put, with the way ads are being packaged and sold on CTV content, we as an industry just don’t have the visibility that we need. That's why it is crucial that marketers remain proactive about keeping their ads safe from harmful and inappropriate content on CTV.

The Best Tactics to Ensure Brand Safety in CTV

Here are key ways to protect your ads on CTV:

Seek Out Reputable Content

It is important to work with reputable sources of inventory that offer greater transparency in both ad buys and measurement. You can also make use of industry-wide content identification tools such as the long-standing Comscore 100 publisher ranking to help navigate available inventory options.

Illustration of Illustration of Research Conducted by Integral Ad Science on Ad Inventory

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Apply Brand Safety and Contextual Accuracy Data Layers

By layering brand safety and contextual relevance at the content level, advertisers can arrive at content which is not only appropriate but also relevant.

For example, suppose you are determining the suitability of CTV video content with a URL containing the phrase "killer key lime pie." Due to the word "killer" this video may be automatically rejected, but upon reviewing the actual content of the video itself, you may learn that it is perfectly suitable to advertise against.

Therefore, it is important to make sure you are reviewing CTV media buys at the content level to fully understand if content is appropriate or not.

Worked with Trusted Partners

 Now more than ever, it is crucial for brands and agencies to work with partners that have proven, transparent and recognized safety standards. Here are a few questions to help you pick the right CTV partner for you:


GumGum is Vetted and Verified to Keep Your CTV Ads Safe

Imagine this: You’re a vacation rental company looking to connect with new customers via CTV. You work with a CTV partner who places your ads against a video titled, “Man in Hotel Room.” But in reality, your ad appears next to a video of a thief breaking into a hotel room. The CTV environment you believed to be safe is actually unsuitable and damaging to your brand.

You may be wondering: how is this possible? The problem is most advertisers today  use brand safety providers that analyze the generic descriptions of the videos to determine their safety level - which is often self-declared and not standardized.

Illustration of CTV Research Conducted by Integral Ad Science

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GumGum's contextual intelligence engine, Verity™ goes beyond metadata to analyze the full content of a video to determine its safety level - so much so that Verity™ is the first to receive an accreditation from the Media Rating Council (MRC) for content-level analysis for brand safety, suitability, and contextual analysis within CTV environments. This expands on Verity™’s previous accreditation across desktop and mobile web environments.

Why is this Important for Advertisers?

  • Expertise vetted by a credible third party and technology that works the way it's promised.
  • Analysis of the full content of CTV video to determine its safety level.
  • Transparency and innovation within an ecosystem that lacks established CTV standards.

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