NEW YORK, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Concerned that their digital advertising efforts -- increasingly orchestrated through ad networks and other aggregated media-buying platforms -- may be compromised by surrounding page content that doesn't align with their strategic interests or brand standards, U.S. marketers may be holding back their investment in online display advertising by as much as $2 billion annually.
That's the principal finding of a new white paper released this morning by Winterberry Group, a New York-based strategic consulting firm that serves the advertising, marketing services and digital media industries. Entitled Beyond the Grey Areas: Transparency, Brand Safety and the Future of Online Advertising, the report explores the impact that "brand safety" concerns have had across the digital marketing landscape, and outlines a set of potential solutions to the dilemma as identified by a research panel comprised of agency, marketer and technology community leaders.
The reported was sponsored by AdSafe Media, a leading provider of online content rating solutions.
"As display advertising grows to assume an increasingly important role in the marketing mix, it's critical that advertisers and agencies understand the extent to which certain issues -- the possibility that ad will appear next to content that could potentially undermine its message, for example -- continue to present real threats," said Jonathan Margulies, a director at Winterberry Group. "Our panelists resoundingly told us these issues persist -- and they bring with them real costs."
In seeking to fully qualify the key issues currently confronting advertisers, Winterberry Group identified five degrees of brand safety risk -- ranging from "message misalignment" (advertising message appears out-of-context from surrounding Web page content) to outright "dangerous" placement (advertising appears on pages that defy baseline societal norms with respect to taste, respect and basic courtesy).
The report declares: "Anecdotally, marketers tell stories of botched campaigns, disastrous brand exposures and quick, last-minute media plan revisions. What they report far less often, though, is the extent to which they deflect ad dollars from the digital display channel -- or hold back from committing spending in the first place -- because of anticipated challenges with regard to risky placement."
In reviewing the white paper, several senior agency thought leaders echoed similar sentiments:
"There is a pent up demand for verification and prevention technologies in the digital advertising environment. Many of our clients are leery of the environment and are particularly concerned about spending more in the non-premium inventory sector. If we can give them more confidence that their advertising is placed where they want it and that we can keep it away from inappropriate content, it will allow them to increase their investment with the confidence that their brand reputation is protected."
-- John Montgomery, COO, North America, GroupM Interaction
"No brand wants to see themselves associated with questionable page-level content online. Transparency is a big issue for digital media. Given increased control, safety and transparency online, we would expect to see digital spending levels increase and become more commensurate with consumers' media consumption habits."
-- Baba Shetty, EVP and Chief Media Officer, Hill Holliday
"Most savvy marketers know digital marketing is an essential element in the media mix to connect and engage with consumers. It is the lack of standardization and accountability in the online space that compromises their willingness to invest more heavily in digital. Marketers want the same types of assurances and controls that they get from offline channels. With proper protocols in place to protect their brand assets and provide adequate transparency, online brand dollars would surely increase significantly."
-- Peter Gardiner, Partner and Chief Media Officer, Deutsch Inc.
The white paper further outlines five trends that define the prevalent concerns around transparency and brand safety in display advertising. They include:
- Advertisers overwhelmingly believe that the "transparency dilemma" -- that is, concern about where ads ultimately appear across Web publishers -- continues to undermine broader investment in display advertising, despite the potential economic efficiencies promised by ad networks, exchanges and other indirect media buying platforms
- The rise of indirect (or "non-premium") online media buying has given birth to widespread advertiser fear about brand safety -- the notion that an advertising message (and its parent brand) may be undermined by page-level content that is either objectionable, contradictory or contextually inappropriate. Though this issue affects marketers across verticals, survey respondents said that advertisers in the healthcare, financial services and consumer goods sectors were particular susceptible to the threat
- Though multiple parties within the display advertising ecosystem stand to gain from the resolution of the transparency and brand safety issues, no single constituency has yet assumed responsibility for delivering a "safe" online advertising environment, protected by real-time content decisioning mechanisms
- An independent third-party entity will most likely be necessary to bridge the dual challenges of transparency and brand safety, given their respective (and sometimes conflicting) economic interests of the established online advertising constituencies
- The economic opportunity inherent in a reliably "safe" online advertising environment is enormous. Over 95 percent of survey respondents indicated that display ad spending would grow if transparency and brand safety issues could be resolved, with a preponderance of those panelists pegging the total potential growth at 10 to 20 percent of current display budgets -- or as much as approximately $2 billion annually.
"Transparency and brand safety are issues which have enormous implications for the online advertising industry as a whole," concluded Helene Monat, co-founder and president of AdSafe Media. "We at AdSafe believe that only through the introduction of an independent and standardized rating system can digital media begin to command advertising dollars commensurate with the present levels of online consumer engagement. Our belief in the need to have all constituents of the ecosystem share their opinions and expertise on these issues motivated our sponsorship of this study."
Beyond the Grey Areas: Transparency, Brand Safety and the Future of Online Advertising is available for complimentary download via AdSafe Media's Web site at www.adsafemedia.com and via the Our Insights page of Winterberry Group's Web site, located at www.winterberrygroup.com/ourinsights.
About Winterberry Group
Winterberry Group is a unique, global strategic consulting firm that helps advertising and marketing companies grow shareholder value. Affiliated with Petsky Prunier LLC -- a leading investment bank providing merger and acquisition advisory services to companies in the same industries -- WG offers its clients strategic perspective that is unparalleled in the advertising and marketing sector, while PPLLC maintains exceptional relationships with industry executives and business owners. In addition to its core corporate strategy offering, the Firm offers a wide range of business assessment, market intelligence and M&A due diligence support offerings.
The Firm's clients include a broad, global range of marketers, service providers and technology developers, as well as the private capital firms that invest in these businesses. They include Acxiom Corporation, Alta Communications, Alterian plc., American Capital Strategies, Apax Partners, arvato Services (the marketing services division of Bertelsmann AG), Canada Post Corporation, Capital One Financial Corp., The Carlyle Group, D.E. Shaw & Co., Eastman Kodak Company, eCircle AG, Epsilon, Experian, Hewlett-Packard Co., MediMedia USA, Meredith, Onex Corporation, Portrait Software, Quadrangle Group, Rosetta, Transcontinental, Inc., Visant Corporation, Xerox and Yahoo!.
For more information, visit www.winterberrygroup.com.
About AdSafe Media
AdSafe Media is the rating standard of online media. It uses proprietary algorithmic modeling and human verification to rate the brand safety of content on commercially supported Web pages via the AdSafe Content Rating System. AdSafe's Brand Safety Firewall enables brands, agencies and ad networks to prevent advertising from appearing on publisher Web pages that do not conform to brand guidelines. AdSafe's Content Monitoring Platform enables ad networks and publishers to identify and segment problematic site content, increasing monetization of display inventory.
AdSafe is headquartered in New York with operations in San Francisco and London.
For more information, visit www.adsafemedia.com.
SOURCE Winterberry Group