Brand Suitability

The Role of Brand Safety in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing in today’s times can be a tricky business. For example, in 2017 YouTube posted ads of some popular brands like Amazon or Adidas alongside objectionable content. These contents supported conspiracy theories among others. As a result, most of these brands paused their advertisements while the investigation was going on. No wonder brands are more aware where their ads appear since then. Poor ad placement can tarnish your brand’s image in the eyes of your customers. You want to build a brand keeping in mind certain standards and values. Let us see the relevant issues, including the definitions of brand safety and suitability as well as their evolution in advertising and digital marketing.

Brand Safety Definition

A brand represents many things. Branding is an effective way to combine a rich set of attributes. These attributes can then be conveyed through a logo, a tagline, a slogan, a jingle, or an image. Through these, you can inspire passion and loyalty in your customers. It is obvious that once your brand is established, you would want to protect it as best as you can. This is where brand safety comes into the picture. The Internet Advertising Bureau defines brand safety as keeping your brand’s reputation safe while advertising. There are tools and tactics for you to use that can ensure that your brand’s image is not affected negatively in any way.

Brand Suitability Definition

The related notion of brand suitability is more specific than brand safety as it is unique to each brand and is determined by its values. In other words, brand suitability informs a brand about inappropriate content in terms of its values. In the same vein, it also informs a brand about appropriate content that is fully aligned with the brand’s values. The Internet Advertising Bureau provides a list of inappropriate topics that advertisers are to avoid. Such tags include military conflict, drugs, obscenity, hate speech, terrorism, and even fake news.

Brand Safety Evolution

You can easily imagine that prior to the advent of the internet, brand safety was also a less complex issue. With only a manageable amount of TV and radio channels, the media environment was quite simple. Thus, brands could effectively streamline where and when their ads appeared. Once the internet entered our homes, a whole new world opened up for brands to target their main audiences. Of course, this came with challenges in terms of culture-specific content, user-generated content, and online contextual targeting, in general.

To avoid toxicity that can actually be avoided, agencies had to devise strategies to keep their brands’ ads in brand-safe contexts. With the pandemic, both brand safety and suitability have become only more complex. 60% of US consumers filling out a survey said they preferred it if their favorite brands took a stand on certain social issues. After considering safety and suitability concerns, also known as asset health, several brands are willing to fulfill their customers’ demands.

Brand Safety In Digital Marketing

In terms of digital marketing, brand safety specifically refers to certain tools and strategies. These are to ensure that an advertiser’s online ad does not appear in a potentially damaging context. Just imagine how much money it would cost if your brand’s ad appeared in a negative, highly offensive or inappropriate environment. It would certainly impact your sales, not to mention the reputation of your brand. There are separate departments in companies like YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram that control what ad appears in what context. Online analytics are a great tool to encourage large network providers to put brand safety first for the advertisers they strike a deal with.


In the current media landscape, brand safety is something your brand should not neglect. Have your brand’s values set and communicated clearly. You may want to evaluate topics that your brand could comfortably align with and similarly topics that are a no-no. Use the right tools and understand the analytics informing you about brand suitability and safety. The internet holds great potential when it comes to advertising and getting the word out about your brand. At the same time, because of its fragmented nature, you need to be more aware of where, when, what, and how it appears.