Thursday 27 June 2019 12:33 pm

Top UK brands at risk as adverts still appear next to harmful material


Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

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Campaigns by two-thirds of the UK’s top 100 advertisers are appearing in places considered to be harmful for the brand’s reputation, a new report has revealed.

A study published by media consultancy firm Ebiquity revealed 65 per cent of the UK’s top advertisers had been exposed to potentially non-brand safe environments in the first quarter this year, putting them at risk of long-term brand damage or commercial harm.

Read more: Creative advertising ‘in crisis’ as brands pursue short-term targets

The report, which focused on the programmatic advertising market, showed adverts were often appearing alongside content considered extremist, sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate.


While all brands could be subject to harmful placement online, the research showed a disparity in the levels of risk across different industries.

Health and fitness and finance brands were most likely to be placed alongside extremist content, while ecommerce companies most frequently accompanied sexual material or nudity.

“Our report demonstrates that brand safety is a complex issue that remains highly relevant for many brands, and there isn’t necessarily one standard applicable to all advertisers,” said Angus Mclean, digital director at Ebiquity.

“Despite continued risks to brands, we believe advertisers can take active steps to tackle brand safety and ad fraud.”

It comes amid growing concern about the problem of brand safety, as advertisers look to gain greater control over where their campaigns appear online.

Earlier this year it emerged major advertisers including Nestle and Disney had pulled adverts from YouTube following allegations they had appeared next to child abuse content.

Read more: Social media firms team up with advertisers to fight online harm


“Brand safety isn’t simply a commercial issue; it’s one of social responsibility,” said Phil Smith, director general of advertising body ISBA. “What we are seeing is more content being deliberately produced to earn ad revenue by bad actors globally.”

The report, which was published with digital advertising insights firm Zulu 5, outlined recommendations for advertisers to improve brand safety, including a clear definition of what constitutes inappropriate content.

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