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How to protect your brand online

How to protect your brand online

By Roger Williams, Director of International Marketing at Right Media

The fact that online marketing offers a targeted, measurable and cost-effective route to market for advertisers, means it’s a vital media channel in this time of economic uncertainty.

It is also why more measureable performance-based advertising campaigns are becoming increasingly popular for advertisers over pure brand advertising. Revolution magazine, for example, highlighted this fact in its January issue, referencing Ebiquity’s 2009 Online Forecast that was predicting a greater focus on Cost Per Action (CPA) based marketing this year.

In the meantime, the unabated growth in the volume of websites and pages being created daily continues, with many more publishers willing to accept performance-based advertising on their sites to ensure they attract advertisers and respond to their needs in order to maximise revenues for their sites.  

With this plethora of new webpages and rush towards performance-based marketing it’s not surprising that some advertisers are still cautious and keen to protect their brands in what many perceive to be a ‘wild west’ environment.

The result is that many are now considering how technology can help them, and platforms, such as ad exchanges, are being considered.  Not only can some of these platforms provide tools that advertisers can use to help them target audiences across the highly fragmented and fast changing online media environment, but tools such as auto-optimisation can help their campaigns become more effective much more quickly.

In addition, these platforms can also help improve efficiencies by automating many of the manual campaign processes. The result can be a more transparent environment that drives greater trust and business by giving users access to trading opportunities. 

But perhaps most importantly for wary advertisers is that platforms, such as ad exchanges are providing a range of tools to help them protect their brand in the online environment and help control where and on what kind of sites their brand appears.

When you are reviewing such platform opportunities you should be considering a number of factors to help you control your brand in the online environment. In particular you should look at:

Am I In Control of My Online Relationships?

You only have to look at the offline business environment to see that, as a matter of course, brands control who they work with and how they work with them.

Therefore, it’s logical that you should seek to continue this approach with your online relationships. However, until recently, such control online was very hard to deliver, and finding the right partners was a slow process – especially if you were looking at international activity.

Exchanges are helping to change all this.  They make it easier for advertisers to identify and reach those on the platform that they wish to approach and engage with - based on what is best for their brand and business.

Control and Targeting

As well as advertisers being able to define who they want to have a direct relationship with, they need to have the ability to define what is and what is not acceptable for their brand, or their client’s brand.

Using an ad exchange, advertisers can help support their business objectives by ensuring they correctly define the audience they wish to reach based on comprehensive targeting criteria – from geography and language through to channels, sites and even specific publishers.

In addition, it’s possible to define where you do not want your advertising to appear, including banning specific content, inventory types, sites and publishers.

As more brand-conscious advertisers begin to invest more of their marketing budget online and consider exchanges,  ad platforms will need to continue to develop their offerings to help provide greater visibility and control.

For example, Right Media has recently launched a new solution - Marketplace Select – to allow brand advertisers to view an ad network’s or publisher’s site list and select which sites they would like their advertising to run on.

This is designed to give brand advertisers greater visibility and control as to where their ads will appear, giving them greater confidence in exchanges and helping advertisers reach their audience while maintaining their brand integrity.

Industry Self-Regulation

Whilst ad exchanges do a great deal through the variety of tools they offer advertisers in terms of helping to protect their brands and minimise ad misplacements, the issue of ads appearing on inappropriate sites is a challenge for the whole industry.

With exchanges tackling the issue of ad misplacements by offering platforms that have targeting and filtering tools, UK ad networks are addressing the issue from a content perspective through IASH (Internet Advertising Sales House), the advertising network council of the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau). 

IASH polices the activities of ad network members in the UK and encourages best practices through the adoption of a code of conduct.  IASH requires that their members submit to a twice-yearly independent audit to ensure that all members meet the requirements of the IASH code. 

Initiatives such as IASH are gaining in interest worldwide, and with other countries now looking to introduce similar approaches, this is a big step in the direction of helping improve the targeting of online ads.

The Future

Because online advertising is still so new, it has taken time for platforms like exchanges and new industry organisations to be created and develop the tools and best practices, respectively, to help ensure online advertising campaigns are as successful as possible.   

These emerging ad platforms and industry bodies are each separately helping create an environment that allows branded advertisers to take advantage of the medium by making them feel much more comfortable when exposing their activity online, at a time when all the benefits of the online route are crucial.

As both continue to evolve, the targeting of online ads will hopefully continue to improve –and thus result in even more advertisers deciding to advertise online.

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