DoubleVerify Develops A More Nuanced Tool To Gauge Brand Suitability

Ad verification company DoubleVerify said Tuesday it is launching a tool in January that will help advertisers take a more nuanced approach to their brand suitability needs.

DoubleVerify said it is rolling out the “next evolution” of its brand safety and suitability solution, Brand Suitability Tiers, which will allow advertisers, publishers and platforms to speak a common language around brand safety.

The tool will offer a more tailored approach compared to the wide net that has been cast over what agencies might consider harmful key words that have often hurt publishers’ monetization efforts.

The company said it is the first to offer a solution aligned with the brand safety floor and brand suitability framework set by the 4A’s Advertising Protection Bureau (APB) and the World Federation of Advertisers’ Global Alliance for Responsible Media. These initiatives are meant to strengthen contextual brand safety practices while also developing a shared language across brands and publishers.

DoubleVerify said the Brand Suitability Tiers will allow brands to align suitability settings with their own unique standards and preferences, “maximizing precision and scale.”

“They’re really designed to give brands the greatest opportunity to accurately control distribution of content while also recognizing significant differences in the industry around types of content and differentiating the various risk levels that brands really care about when it comes to managing their brand values,” DoubleVerify COO Matt McLaughlin told AdExchanger.

DoubleVerify’s technology is designed to measure digital media quality and performance across mobile, desktop and video, including the walled gardens of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and other social media. The company, which clinched a $350 million investment deal last month, helps advertisers check if an ad has actually been seen by a real person and not a bot and if the ads appear in the intended geography. It also filters out hate speech and disinformation, ensuring ads are served in the appropriate environments.

McLaughlin said that the enhanced solution will give advertisers access to 13 categories of content tiered by three levels of risk: low, medium and high.

DoubleVerify assesses risk levels based on content topics and type: educational, news, dramatic depiction, user-generated. Because it considers both content topics and type, the company claims its clients have more control over their brand safety and suitability preferences. (DoubleVerify’s solution offers 89 unique brand safety and suitability settings.)

“If the existing control had a single category representing violence, let’s say, we are evolving that into three distinct categories,” McLaughlin said.

While the IAB Tech Lab initially published a taxonomy of objectionable content, it wasn’t detailed enough for marketers.

“[The IAB Tech Lab taxonomy] was built for positive targeting … nobody was targeting obscenity or hate speech,” said Joe Barone, managing partner focused on brand safety at GroupM. “We realized that not having those categories left us unable to identify those types of harmful content and avoid them.”

The verification and advertising industry has recently faced pressure over keyword blocking, where brands took the broad, sloppy approach of not advertising against content that had words such as dead, shoot, kill, crime, fire, Trump, etc.

“And they’re done without any context,” Barone said. “We’re definitely moving forward with companies like DoubleVerify to get away from exact-match keywords and use more nuance, contextual tools, and that’s exactly what this brand suitability framework is.”

For example, instead of blocking anything related to the keyword “death,” advertisers using DV’s tool can now look at the content and determine whether the keyword is tied to, say, a movie review or a video game, he said.

“If there’s guns present, is it ‘Call of Duty’ or is it a terrorist attack in Las Vegas?” Barone said. “There’s a tremendous difference between those different types of content.”

GroupM has been reevaluating brand safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic and increased concerns around privacy. As the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of connected TV, digital out of home (DOOH), digital audio and gaming, brands have been forced to take a nuanced approach to suitability on each new medium.

McLaughlin said that the solution is rolling out across DoubleVerify’s capabilities, including pre-bid targeting and post-bid measurement.

“It’s going into all different ad formats and channels, including video and social networks – it’s really comprehensive,” he said.


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