B&T recently sat down for a one-on-one with Carat’s chief digital officer, Sarah James, to discuss one of the burning industry issues – brand safety. Here, she weighs up the pros and cons of programmatic in this context, and argues why advertisers’ need for Twitter will grow in the future.
When did brand safety first become an issue for your clients?
Brand safety has been a concern for advertisers since our industry started across all channels – not just digital. Press, TV, out of home, radio – every channel has had their time in the spotlight from a brand safety perspective.
Brand safety is an issue of your ads appearing in a context that’s not right for your brand, and that means different things to every advertiser – it’s not always a matter of porn or salacious content. Depending on what you’re selling and your brand values, those might be very brand-safe environments for you, say, if you’re someone like Sexy Land, Ansell, or a sexual health clinic.
Far more innocuous-seeming environments, on the other hand, can still represent a brand safety challenge. For example, if I sell chocolate, I would not consider having my TVC in the first in break position after an A Current Affair exposé on diabetes or childhood obesity a brand-safe environment for me.
Digital and programmatic are having their moment in the brand safety spotlight now, driven in large by the increase in the volume of advertising being placed that way.
Programmatic is a hugely tempting proposition for advertisers, because of its ability to drive efficiencies by having a singular view of the consumer and its ability to be able to overlay data to enrich the granularity of targeting.
What everyone seems to be forgetting is that programmatic, and more broadly digital, is a channel in its relative infancy – it’s going to have a component of test and learn to it.
It’s a channel unlike any other in both its risk and reward. For better or worse, no other channel moves and evolves at a comparable pace. For that reason, we need to look at it through an entirely different lens. It’s unreasonable to expect we will ever be able to completely eliminate risk for brands on digital – it’s simply changing too fast.
However, what has become extremely apparent is the importance of third-party verification as no longer a ‘nice to have’, but rather an essential additional layer of security for both brands and agencies.
When you suggest Twitter as a brand-safe platform, are advertisers usually somewhat taken aback? How do you convince them of its merits?
Advertisers aren’t necessarily taken aback. However, bringing Twitter into the mix requires a different conversation. It has the power to act as an intimate conversation with fans/customers when it is used in the right way, as well as having the ability to be used as a reach driver.
As an example, we have seen many brands use it as a service channel to answer customer enquiries extremely well in a timely manner, as well as seeing many advertisers lean into the real-time nature of the platform by extending sponsorships into the platform such as the Holden/NRL sponsorship.
What’s the most surprising thing about Twitter as a video platform?
The volume of video being watched is surprising for a platform such as Twitter, which began like many others did with such a big focus on text. There has continued to be a focus on the creativity needed to craft storytelling in a limited number of characters, but now with the increase to 280 characters, this gives brands more scope to tell stories.
However, Twitter hasn’t ignored the shift towards visual-first content. Owning the live video space where competitors like Facebook would seek to overtake them shows how big a focus video has been for Twitter. The continued work to negotiate broadcast rights across key sporting codes in Australia will continue to see advertisers see an increased need for Twitter in the mix.