How does brand safety come into play for ad earnings?

“Brand safety” is a growing concern for many advertisers. To prevent negative associations with their brand, they want to make sure their ads don’t appear on the same page as topics they consider to be sensitive, controversial, or offensive.

Some advertisers use very basic keyword-based tools to scan for topics they’ve identified as “risky”, so they can avoid placing ads on that content. As a result, the use of any keyword on their list can trigger an automated flag, whether or not the content truly presents a brand safety concern.

For example, the word “killer” may be on a certain advertiser’s list for concerns around violence. This is great when the scanning tool catches a page called “Brutal Serial Killer Murders”, so they don’t place their ads near content on that topic. Unfortunately, your post titled “Killer Chocolate Cake” could also set off that flag, causing that advertiser to refrain from bidding for ad placements on that post.

We see this happen the most often with a page’s title and URL, so it’s especially important to keep word associations from a brand safety perspective in mind when choosing those two options.

Each advertiser can set their own parameters for keywords they want to avoid, so what constitutes a “brand-safe” ad placement is different for every ad campaign.

These are the main categories that may trigger brand safety concerns around placing ads:

  • Adult/sexual content
  • Violent content and words related to violence
    • Including words like "killer" and "the bomb"
  • Downloads & file sharing
    • Including the word "download" itself! If you offer downloadable content on your site, you may want to choose another word to advertise it. For example, "Get my e-book for free here!" vs. "Download my free e-book!"
  • Recreational use of legal and/or illegal drugs (including cannabis)
    • Including words like "addicting", "medicine", and "Mary Jane"
  • Hate speech/derogatory language
  • Offensive language (especially profanity, expletives)
  • Gambling
  • Sensitive social issues (such as abortion, weapons, immigration reform)
  • Tragedy (death, disasters, war, transportation accidents)
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Shocking/disturbing content
  • Coronavirus/COVID-19 terms
    • Including words like "pandemic" and "quarantine"

The content you publish on your site is always up to you (within the terms of your Service Agreement with AdThrive), but we hope this peek into advertisers’ brand safety concerns is helpful as you consider any unintended consequences of specific word choices or keywords!

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