Have you ever created an Ad, placed your buys and then watched the numbers grow as your audience grew?  I have.  I have also witnessed brands place a buy with their agency who in turn take that ad money and place the buy with multiple ad networks, who then take the brand buy and place them on “strategically” sound publishers.  Then the fun happens when your client calls and says he has found the ad next to porn, consumer generated content or better yet hate messages.   

At a recent IAB meeting I was holding court over cocktails on the subject of Brand Safety in the incestuous world of blind networks and disreputable publishers.

The online ad network industry has evolved from horizontal or blind ad networks running client's campaigns alongside inappropriate content to Vertical Ad Networks where the media buyer and the client know exactly where their ads are running-- in an environment of high composition audiences. The efficiency of this is obvious.

But as the industry evolves and 40% of the networks are working in the vertical and 60% are working in the horizontal, how do brands protect themselves from running on inappropriate content? 

I ponder this industry issue as we run into the future of online video content.  I believe that it will begin to grow incredibly unpleasant for brands that spend millions on a 15 sec spot and find that spot on content that has not been categorized or rated by an independent organization (like the ESRB or MPAA).

As interactive media buys have grown over the years we are seeing more and more instances of brand advertising showing up on “sketch” websites.

Did you know that one in every five online ads is running on a "blind" network?

The UK IAB and an independent organization made up of ad networks / Internet ad sales houses have joined to create a “Code of Conduct”



Today, I ask that we as an industry begin a coalition that protects our advertisers and brands while categorizing and rating content on the Internet.  That way, when an advertiser places a buy they can run on rated content, just as they do on cable TV.

The purpose is to categorize and set ratings, NOT to ban content from the Internet.

Imagine the benefits to the brands and the inevitable benefits to consumers if we were to all use a common language and rating system.  Utopia.  As many of you know this is something that is long overdue in the Internet industry.

I welcome comments, suggestions and other who will me to join me in this endeavor.


ON: Brand Safety & Media Buys via @jpenabickley