The issue of brand safety is everywhere at the moment, but two months ago, I bet most marketers would have struggled to describe to you what brand safety was.

But from this relative anonymity, via a series of well-publicised water-cooler moment scandals (published by a Google competitor, Rupert Murdoch's Times newspaper), brand safety is now at the top of every major brand agenda - including education providers - who buy programmatic advertising.


Brand safety may be on the news agenda, but at Net Natives we have confronted this issue head-on since we began to integrate programmatic tools and techniques into our campaigns. Our CEO posted a blog on programmatic and brand safety, setting out our position, and 6 months ago we highlighted the potential issues of publisher sites offering programmatic. There can be no justification for brands, particularly those in our sector, to fund abhorrent organisations - even if it does return the lowest price per impression for your campaign (or cheap wins for less reputable agencies acting on your behalf). With the current media scandals, blissful ignorance is no longer an option.

We believe that every impression should be truly accountable.

As Europe's leading student digital marketing agency, our ethical advertising credentials speak for themselves. We're a Google Premier Partner, a Facebook Marketing Partner, Amazon's European programmatic advertising partner and we have developed our own marketing performance software. We use programmatic technology in the mix for our clients' campaigns and Net Natives is the go-to agency in our space for our programmatic expertise. Programmatic advertising needs to be approached ethically and with care. As an agency, we ensure programmatic ads are only going to be placed and tracked on the relevant sites for their audience.

Our three pillars

To protect your brand we have a number of measures and principles in place and we use our Accountable Impressions Scoring system for all publishers and providers. Using this method (and the techniques listed below) we are able to offer our clients the sort of brand protection that other agencies are unable (or unwilling) to provide.

The three pillars of our Accountable Impressions Scoring system are:


  1. Brand Safety - It is crucial that your advertising is not seen against any content that may have an adverse effect on your respected brand names. This could include overtly offensive content such as pornography, as well as sensitive material including political content and fake news.

  2. Viewability - The IAB defines an ad as viewable if at least 50% of its area is displayed on-screen for at least one second. In simple terms, an ad is viewable if it can be seen by a person. We cannot guarantee 100% viewability of ads (no agency or provider can) but we are unique as we ask all publishers to provide information on how viewable their ad inventory is and the measures they put in place to maximise viewability.

  3. Fraud - Advertising fraud is a major problem and is defined as any activity that fools the advertiser into purchasing inventory that is worthless to them. It can include bot activity, fraudulent URLs, or specific page-level fraud. As well as asking all publishers to provide evidence of how they prevent fraud, we also use third-party technologies to protect our clients.


All of our publishers and providers have to complete our stringent assessment process on their approach to the three pillars of our Accountable Impressions Scoring system and we score accordingly. Scoring is between 1-100 and any publisher/ provider that scores below our threshold will not be available through Net Natives as we deem it too risky for your brand.

Protecting your brand online

We also employ a number of other methods to ensure that your brand is safe, including:


  • Whitelists - we ask all publishers if they have the ability to advertise using a whitelist. If they do not operate whitelists then we expect them to have other advanced methods of brand protection in place.

  • Blacklist - we ask all publishers if they have the ability to prevent advertising being displayed on certain domains using a blacklist. All providers must use a global blacklist as a minimum level of protection with other measures in place.

  • Publisher/Provider Take-down Policies - a takedown policy is in place in the unlikely circumstance that an ad is found on a website deemed inappropriate.

  • Category exclusions - these are used across platforms including Google Display Network and with Doubleclick Bid Manager. We ensure your ads do not appear alongside any inappropriate content by excluding certain categories.

  • Video exclusions - similarly to category exclusions, we manage your ads so that they do not appear alongside any inappropriate videos.

  • Digital content labelling - this works in a similar way to film classifications and helps us identify whether ads will be displayed on sites that are not age appropriate.

  • Negative keywords - as well as a global blacklist, we operate a global negative keyword list.

  • Third party specialist technologies including pre-and-post bid technologies - as well as our own methods, we use specialist software to protect your brand including DoubleVerify, Moat and Integral Ad Sciences.

  • Advertising auditing and analytics - unbiased analytics are reviewed in real-time by our team of experts.


So as you can see, Net Natives take your brand safety and reputation very seriously and when you run a campaign with us, you can be assured that we will protect your brand online.


If you want to discuss keeping your brand safe or digital advertising, please contact one of the experts at Net Natives.


Article by

Rich Campbell

Head of Marketing