Digital advertising delivers value for businesses by helping them engage their audience in the virtual world. In the digital ecosystem, how brands communicate with their target audiences and scale their campaigns can be a deal-breaker for businesses, especially for startups in the process of building a loyal customer base. In Southeast Asia (SEA) marketers are beginning to actively evaluate their digital advertising investments and are increasingly getting on the programmatic advertising bandwagon.
As new online behaviours emerge, consumer interaction with brands is evolving over multiple platforms such as mobile, social media, over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV), making top-of-mind recall a key priority for businesses. This is especially true for brands in Southeast Asia (SEA) where consumers plan to continue using digital platforms to the same extent or more after the pandemic. According to eMarketer, digital ad spend in SEA grew by 17.8% in 2021, accounting for 31.5% (USD 3.68bn) of total ad spend. This figure is expected to rise to USD 4.1bn this year.
Stakes are high when we talk about keeping a brand safe
A given brand’s image may have been carefully crafted over the years, only to be destroyed for a consumer in the milliseconds it takes for a display ad to render next to the ‘wrong’ content. This damage can spread further in the time it takes to snap a screen grab and post it. So, what happens next? The digital version of guilt by association—your brand now appears to represent something that it probably does not.
This logic around brand safety is not just a guess, we have the evidence to back it up. Biometric research conducted by Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Neuro-Insight shows that people respond to the entire context surrounding an ad impression rather than just a single component of it. Real-time brain scans revealed that ads that appear next to high-quality content are shown to be more likeable than the same ads in low-quality environments. A high-quality environment means ads are cognitively processed more deeply and produce higher levels of activation in the areas of the brain responsible for long-term memory.
The great news is tools like IAS’s brand safety solution, which employs unique and sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence, very effectively keep brands safe. At the same time, it introduces the idea that there are environmental contexts that we might want ads to be guided toward as opposed to away, as is the case with brand safety. This is the notion of brand suitability: finding more places that are suitable for your brand in an effort to get better outcomes.
Time to consider not just “safe” but “suitable”
Brand suitability considers the meaning, context and potential implications of online content, specific to an actual brand’s needs. Brand suitability is about much more than avoiding ad placements alongside obviously inappropriate content—it is about identifying the places that work for you and your brand. For example, the content adjacencies that might be suitable for a children’s toy brand are likely to be wildly different from those contexts that are appropriate for an alcohol brand. We’ve identified this as more of a spectrum, depending on an individual brand’s ethos. It’s more important than ever to ensure digital messages appear in suitable environments, not solely to avoid risk but to also effectively reach the right consumers.
According to our data, 37% of brands in Southeast Asia (SEA) activated a new brand suitability strategy in the last 6 months. Brands have really taken a step back and thought about emerging news cycles & recent socio-political developments, and now 3 in every 4 brands have proactively created a robust suitability strategy for their digital campaigns.
Getting the most out of connecting with a target audience requires an understanding of a brand’s unique image and message. Those promoting cars, for instance, will want to avoid content aimed at children and seek out content curated for working professionals to increase the relevancy of their ads around appropriate and engaging content. Marketers can work with partners to determine what suitability means for their specific brand, align their definition with brand values, and actively target these environments.
Neurological evidence proves an ad’s environment has a dramatic impact
Integral Ad Science is leading the charge in the move from brand safety to suitability. The latest biometric research finds consumers respond more to ads in suitable contexts, and an ad served in a suitable environment increases memorability by up to 40%. The biometric research demonstrates that people respond to the entire context of an ad impression rather than just a single component of it, generating a very strong positive halo effect for ads that are seen in high-quality environments. Advertisers, publishers, and consumers benefit from a focus on brand suitability by increasing campaign effectiveness and streamlining the overall consumer experience. In the same vein, it truly addresses the fact that brand suitability will require a shift from all stakeholders in the industry. Advertisers need to clearly spell out their brand suitability requirements without limiting scale, while publishers should actively work with brands to understand and meet their suitability thresholds.
Industry embraces brand suitability
Suitable content isn’t just for high-level advertisers; the entire company must change gears to align themselves with their company’s brand suitability model. In a CNBC interview, Chief Brand Officer of P&G, Marc Pritchard shared that they are putting in the effort to reinvent advertising from mass clutter with too many annoying messages to useful and interesting brand content consumers will actually look forward to.
There is no shortage of misinformation and social media commentary related to any number of topics right now, so many regional marketers are actively looking to understand the facts associated with brand suitability. The conversation is indeed fast evolving from the binary focus of brand safety to the more nuanced and bespoke brand suitability. In today’s digital landscape, we are scaling successfully through the likes of programmatic—now we need to focus on quality. The first goal will always be brand safety, but the close second should be to appear in a suitable context, at scale. It’s a big task, the needle is rapidly moving in SEA and we’re here to help.
This article was first published on Medianews4U.