How Whitelists Encourage both Brand Safety and Campaign Effectiveness

facebookIn today’s highly fractured digital media landscape, brand safety has become a major issue with brands. This applies to both issues related to click fraud, where an ad network fraudulently uses bots, but it can also include issues of branded ads automatically being placed on websites that do not reflect the brand’s values. In fact, the problem is so widespread last year we dubbed “brand safety” the official word of 2018.

So, what progress has the industry made in the past year or so? Well, one thing is Facebook’s introduction of new safety measures and tools to help brands better control where their ads appear. Specifically, Facebook is now allowing advertisers to create whitelists, which enable brands to pre-approve where their ads appear, either on websites or apps. Campaigns run using whitelists will show ads only on the approved sites.

Facebook, whose Audience Network reaches more than 1 billion people each month, and this whitelist feature will allow advertisers to more tightly control not only where their ads appear but also who sees them. The tech giant is hoping to attract more advertisers to its larger advertising network, which includes such marquee publishers such as the Washington Post, as well as thousands of mobile apps and other websites.

Whitelists not only provide advertisers with better control over their ads, but they also work better than more traditional “blocklists.” Blocklists are where an advertiser indicates sites where they don’t want their ads to appear. However, on large ad networks deploying programmatic ad units, advertisers may not always know where their ads are ending up until a campaign is finished running. So, yes, they can block sites whose content doesn’t align with their brand values, but that’s hard to do if you don’t know where your ad is shown until after the fact.

Obviously, the big question on everyone’s mind is: Do whitelists work? The jury is still out on that one, to some degree at least, though some evidence exists. For example, JP Morgan Chase bank used a whitelist to reduce the number of sites it ran on from 400,000 to 5,000 last year, which ultimately makes the ad dollars fueling those ad placement more effective. In other words, they can spend money running ads on sites that align with their brand, and thus perform better (at least in theory).

Similarly, we here at Capital Media have found that by continually optimizing whitelists we can get more out of our clients’ budgets throughout the course of a campaign.

If you’re interested in learning more about what whitelisting can do for your digital ad buys, give us a call. We’re happy to discuss the benefits of using this technique to make your ad dollars stretch even further.


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