Rethinking The Open Garden In The Wake Of Brand Safety Woes

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Adam Chandler, chief business officer at Kargo.

What a week. More than 250 brands pulled back their ad spending due to unsafe supply in the very walled gardens that claim brand-safe scale.

Now more than ever, rethinking an open-garden strategy is paramount. Will it be easy? Easier for some than others.

Since the rise of the walled gardens, many brands have shifted most of their ad dollars into what they thought were “safe havens,” filled with users who were easily identifiable given true login data. As brands moved their investments into walled gardens during the desktop boom, not as much shifting occurred out of these gardens when new platforms like mobile devices exploded on the scene.

What happened along the way? Major brands kept their desktop investment choices and did little more than a lift-and-shift as their audience moved from the desktop to the mobile device within these gardens.

As a result, most online publishers were left to scramble and figure out their “off-domain” monetization strategy. With more than 80% of all mobile dollars spent on walled gardens and social platforms, brands figured a consolidation into a few social apps would check the box on mobile marketing.
Fast forward to last week.

With ads appearing next to extremist and offensive content on YouTube, brands were reminded that putting all of their investment into a few places that are used primarily for user-generated content could be harmful to an always-on strategy.

So now what? It’s time to rethink an open-garden strategy. It will require strategy and focus to shift investment from social apps to the rest of the mobile web where consumers spend more time.

But besides getting more eyeballs on ads, an important ancillary benefit to this shift is that publishers will get the additional revenue they desperately need so they can continue creating the best possible content for consumers. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that’s mutually beneficial to both advertisers and content creators.

What about programmatic investment in an open-garden world? Deeper thinking into programmatic and data is needed given that not all people are trackable, so blindly applying a programmatic strategy to mobile or video is not something that’s going to bring rewards. And server-side header bidding certainly creates challenges and opportunities in mobile web since some identification signals are stripped from the page.

Last but not least, it’s time to rethink the balance of brand investment in the social autobahn news feed versus where consumers spend more time consuming content.

These challenges present opportunity. Additional attention to detail and strategic thinking are part of the equation. The other part is open-garden thinking.

Follow Kargo (@kargo) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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