Survey says blog

October 16, 2018

Survey Says: Most ‘Completely Clueless’ About Brand Safety in an AI-Driven World


Protect your brand by understanding how AI can both help and hinder your brand’s safety.

“A recent worldwide study published by Juniper Research found that advertisers will lose an estimated $19bn to fraudulent activities next year — that’s equivalent to about $51m per day. This annual revenue loss, representing advertising on online and mobile devices, will continue to rise, reaching $44bn by 2022.”

Each brand, including your own, has a unique vision, set of values, and goals that are communicated to the public through content. Brand safety means avoiding content that is illegal, offensive, malicious, or overarchingly goes against your brand’s specific set of principles.

Polling Tweeters on the Topic of Brand Safety

To better get a ‘lite’ understanding of what people’s awareness is of AI-driven solutions and their general role in brand safety, we took to Twitter for a very unscientific poll targeting individuals ages 25 and up, HH income of $75K-$199K in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Austin with an interest in keywords including artificial intelligence, brand safety and brand marketing. Poll takers were 67% male, 33% female and most identified as professional/technical occupations. Our poll response choices were the same across the board with:

- I know a lot

- I know a little

- Completely clueless

Our five poll questions were:

- Do you know what programmatic advertising is and its potential pros/cons related to brand safety?

- Do you know how much influence brands have in where their online ads appear?

- How much do you understanding about what major search and social businesses are doing to protect brands from the spread of false information?

- Do you know how much a brand has control over its digital ad placement?

- Would you stop using a brands’ products or services if their ad(s) appeared before a video or on a site you did not like? (Responses: Yes, no, not sure.)

Survey Says: 58% Responded ‘Completely Clueless’

Protecting your brand in an AI-driven world can be costly but getting smart on the opportunities to deploy AI solutions presents an opportunity for agencies and consultants alike to do more in offering their clients education, webinars and trainings on the varied ways AI can serve as a power for brand-safety good.

While the majority of poll takers responded ‘completely clueless’ to our questions, a handful did say they knew a little or were taking steps to get smart on it. Respondents were split (39% yes/41% no) on our last questions about quitting a brand if their product or service appeared before a video or on a site he/she did not like.

The risks associated with brand safety and brand fraud used to be easier to mitigate; however, in today’s AI-driven world things have become more complicated.

This raises the question, “how can AI work and not work in favor of my brand’s safety?”

How Does AI Work in Favor of Your Brand’s Safety?

There are plenty of AI-driven tools that allow brands to track and analyze their brand on every digital media platform. For example:

  1. Programmatic ad buying is when brands leave it up to AI to buy, place, and optimize media inventory. In other words, a software that uses machine learning algorithms takes care of all the ad placements, and there is no need for human intervention.

  2. Leverage real-time insights to track and analyze audience behavior to point out erratic or unusual patterns. AI can do this efficiently and around the clock.

  3. Machine-learning algorithms can constantly check, and update blacklisted, suspicious data, etc.

  4. NLP can identify keywords/strings of words that are from untrusted publishers, suspicious traffic, and non-human traffic.

  5. Machine learned solutions like Adthena allow you to monitor thousands of keywords and competitors’ in real-time to protect your brand from brand term and trademark infringements.

How can AI work against your brand’s safety?

Alex Monstrous, head of investigations at The Times, dropped a major truth bomb about big brands ‘unknowingly’ funding advertisements linked to terrorist groups and pro-Nazi organizations through YouTube. I say ‘unknowingly’ because these brands were using programmatic ad buying. Procter & Gamble was one of these brands that had to do a complete rework of their brand's media supply chain.

The scandal ultimately revealed the risks associated with using AI to purchase media, and the lack of control brands have over their brand safety.


The good news is that YouTube, and other platforms (Google, for example), is making changes to their policies to protect brands from the risks of programmatic advertising and other AI tools alike.

The takeaway here is that you should always be cautious while implementing a new AI-driven tool, especially when it is in control of your content - the communication channel between your brand and your audience. And the opportunity here is to learn about a new AI-driven brand management solution to sharpen the saw and advance your tech marketing reach, conversions, engagement and analytics.

How can we help you with your digital marketing transformation using AI?

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