Advertising Digital Publishing
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Brand safety concerns recede as privacy, transparency and sustainability take center stage

IAB Europe’s 2023 Brand Safety Poll shows that publisher efforts to improve brand safety are working. In its place, however, are increased concerns over privacy, transparency, and sustainability.

IAB Europe, the European association for the digital advertising ecosystem, has released the findings of its 2023 Brand Safety Poll which covers 157 industry professionals from across the digital advertising industry. The full report can be accessed here.

Key highlights:

  • 67% of respondents agree that brand safety was a key priority for the industry in 2022
  • 53% of respondents agreed that the industry has done a good job of tackling brand safety over the past 12 months. This is up from 36% in 2019. 
  • 71% cited technology innovations as helping to solve brand safety concerns. This is up from 65% in 2019. 

The findings are good news for publishers, many of whom have worked tirelessly to implement solutions that protect brands from appearing next to content that could be considered unpleasant, harmful, or misleading.

It is encouraging to see stakeholders recognise the importance that technology plays in tackling brand safety and suitability. We will continue to work with our members to highlight advances and best practices in this area, to enable brand safe experiences for both advertisers and consumers.

Helen Mussard, CMO, IAB Europe

However, the results surfaced another set of concerns over privacy, transparency, and sustainability. 57% of respondents said that privacy concerns are more of a challenge than last year, whilst only 8% said it was less of a challenge. 44% of respondents said that transparency and sustainability are more of a challenge than last year compared to 39% that said brand safety. 

During WNIP’s London publisher tour last year, sustainability was singled out as the key issue moving forwards and the ad industry has been moving quickly on the issue – The Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero Summit, WARC’s Ad Net Zero Guide, and Advertising Week’s Ad Net Zero podcast all symptomatic of an industry collectively trying to forge a more sustainable path moving forwards.

Many brands, as part of their own supply-line net zero initiatives, are now demanding that their publisher partners are matching their sustainability initiatives. Indeed, one media group said that a number of brands had approached them directly to know the sustainability initiatives that the publisher had in place before buying any media.

Whilst sustainability is a huge incoming trend that many publishers are ill-prepared for, the solutions aren’t always cut and dried. One magazine publisher told us they had reverted back to using plastic shrinkwrap because the compostable shrinkwrap they had been using was causing havoc with local authorities’ refuse collection machines.