Why brand safety is more important than ever in the Middle East

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Brand safety has been one of the hottest topics in digital advertising space for the last couple of years. GMR interviews Jamie Atherton, Managing Director, AdZouk, on the implications of brand safety in the region:


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Do you believe advertisers are going the right way in their effort to tackle the issue of brand safety since it came into the limelight?                                    Advertisers are very aware of the problems they face daily when it comes to keeping brands away from negative content, but it still happens all the time. I see premium auto ads next to car crash content and airline ads alongside content about negative user experiences on that same airline – there are many examples out there. I think the advertiser knows exactly what they want and they brief their partners on it, but it is not being managed well enough. Existing technology provides a damage report showing where the brand has been poorly placed, but what good is that when the damage has already been done? It’s simply not good enough.

How do you see the issue of brand safety impacting brands’ reputation, especially in the geographical limit of Middle East and how it has impacted their ROI?

It’s extremely damaging to a brand, specifically to their reputation and integrity. Would you buy a car from a local dealer if it was merged within images of cars in flames on a road here?


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I wouldn’t and I’d think twice about engaging with that brand in the future. We live in a region dominated by political content and it is therefore even more important for advertisers to manage the security of their brand properly.

A lot of brands know how brand safety impacts them, yet only a few take action. Why is it so?

There’s a minority that wants reach and performance, wherever it may be, for as cheap as possible. If that’s their need and they understand the consequences then fair enough, that’s up to them.

Most brands, however, do take action, they understand the pitfalls of being associated with the negative content, fraudulent traffic and low viewability and adopt creative and buying agencies alongside third-party tech, to do the work for them.

However, the industry as a whole needs to work better to protect brands in an online environment – publishers need to vet content, agencies need to buy their media cleverly, and technology needs to get better.

There is little use reporting back to a brand at the end of the month on the damage if it’s already been done.


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How should advertisers employ brands safety measures?

Technology needs to improve, with so many people in the middle when launching an ad campaign it’s imperative that the tech adopted is providing real-time data. It’s why we developed 1tag secure – brands deserve better.

Our technology actively blocks ads from appearing next to undesirable content and provides real-time, page level analytics. We even tell you how much money you’ve saved by not serving on that blocked impression.

We filter out bot traffic to ensure the ads are only shown to actual readers and also have an interactive functionality where the brand can determine where they want their ad on the page.

Want more above the fold ads? No problem, you simply drag and drop your desired creative size to wherever you want at the top of the page.