Press release

GumGum Report: Digital Marketers Are More Sophisticated about Brand Safety, but See Campaign Reach Limited

Sponsored by Businesswire

GumGum, Inc., an artificial intelligence company specializing in solutions for advertising and media, released today its latest BrandRx report on brand safety in digital advertising. The new report, Moving Brands Beyond the Blocklist: Brand Safety Roadshow 2019, details insights from industry leaders who attended a series of brand safety themed events held in cities across the United States this spring.

“When we launched our first BrandRx study in 2017, a spate of scandals related to digital campaigns appearing in unsavory contexts online had revealed brand safety to be a serious challenge for digital marketers,” said GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder. “From what we heard at the seminars we organized, it’s clear that marketers have turned those lessons into action.”

The industry leaders cited in the report say they are successfully applying brand safety tools in tandem with human oversight to reliably screen content. They said they are now able to quickly react to the emergence of unsafe content or new cycle changes that in the past would have resulted in unsafe ad placements.

“The safety conversation has matured quickly and we heard marketers drilling down on subtler problems associated with online content–especially now that so much is user generated,” Schraeder said. “They’re applying brand safety tools and making demands on publishers to ensure that ads are placed in contexts that are not just free of things like nudity or violence, but which are also socially and even emotionally suitable to the brand or product.”

As the scope of brand safety efforts has grown to include suitability, however, some marketers cited see cause for concern.

“When you take it too far you can end up avoiding the news sites altogether,” director of programmatic Ken Van Every is quoted saying. “When we talk about where people’s eyeballs are, they’re definitely on news sites.”

Strategies and tools like whitelists, direct deals with publishers, and keyword blocking can ensure contextual suitability, but they also bar access to large audiences visiting sites run by niche content creators. “You have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Van Every says in the report.

The report concludes that marketers are trying to find a balance between safety and reach by applying thoughtful combinations of creativity, public relations strategy, savvy media buying and technology. That conclusion is drawn from quoted statements by executives at a number of prominent agencies and brands including Mindshare, iCrossing, UM, The Richards Group and Edelman.

The two previous reports in GumGum’s BrandRx series are BrandRx: The New Brand Safety Crisis and The Brand Safety Crisis One Year Later.

About GumGum:

GumGum is an artificial intelligence company with a focus on computer vision and natural language processing. Our mission is to solve hard problems by teaching machines to understand the world. Since 2008, the company has applied its patented capabilities to serving media-related industries, including advertising and professional sports. For more information, please visit