Brand Protection from Digital Content Infection

Safeguarding Brand Reputation Through Diligent Ad Channel Selection

In partnership with:


The CMO Council teamed with Dow Jones to engage the Council’s global members, affiliates, partners and audiences on the topic of brand reputation and risk associated with programmatic buying of digital media advertising. As noted in the news, limitations in this technology-driven process have resulted in notable, image-sensitive brand ads appearing within or alongside hateful, derogatory and offensive rich media content, fake news, as well as non-contextual and inappropriate online channels. 

As a result, chief marketing officers from the world’s most trusted and respected advertisers are taking steps to protect and safeguard their brands by reducing spend in certain digital channels until better controls, compliance and assurances are in place regarding the placement of ads and the integrity and relevance of content and audiences.

Programmatic media buying is on track to account for nearly 80 percent of all mobile and digital display ad placement this year, and is expected to represent some $33 billion in spend, notes Adweek. However, brands and their agencies are challenged to make sure they better control the content environments in which their ads are positioned at scale through automated systems. Many of those advertising in Google and YouTube have been compromised when their ads have run next to inappropriate, questionable, and hateful content that is not produced by trusted and reputable editorial sources. Despite these risks, automated ad buying will likely top $45 billion by 2019, notes eMarketer. 

In an effort to assess the impact of digital advertising experiences on consumer perceptions and purchase intent, the CMO Council conducted a poll of 2,000 consumers across North America and the UK. The research looked at digital brand safety from the consumer’s perspective, and found that consumers are punishing even preferred brands if they don’t use trusted media platforms or take active steps to control the integrity of their ad environments. In fact, nearly half of all consumers indicate they would rethink purchasing from brands or would boycott products if they encountered brand ads alongside digital content that offends them.

As such, the CMO Council explored the issues, implications and impact of this further through conversations with domain experts; dialogues with large advertisers (technology, communications, travel, hospitality, luxury goods, fashion, financial services, health care, automotive, professional services). Some of the top brands that participated in the conversation include SAP, Reebok, United Rentals, AIG, Morgan Stanley, Vera Bradley, TUMI and others. We also surveyed leading marketers as to their concerns in advertising in the digital ecosystem, and the steps they are taking to protect their brands.

Topics explored with brand marketing decision makers and customer audiences include:

  • Level of marketing leader sensitivity and concern regarding digital ad content compromises
  • Plans and intentions to safeguard and protect brand integrity in digital advertising channels
  • Importance and value of content and channel to brand advertising effectiveness and message delivery
  • Measurements of harm or reputational impact on brands associated with adverse content
  • Incidence and nature of brand compromises in online digital advertising programs
  • Best practice approaches to assuring brand integrity in programmatic ad buys
  • Using digital advertising science to create greater brand compliance and accountability
  • Consumer and business buyer perceptions and reactions to brand misplacement in crowdsourced content channels
  • Impact on allocation and evaluation of media strategy, selection, spend and buying approach
  • Level of satisfaction with digital advertising effectiveness, economics, efficiency and transparency


Facts & Stats

Mobile ads have lower ad blocking software use on mobile devices amongst American internet users. Whereas 17.7 percent of Internet users in the U.S. use ad blocking software on their laptop or desktop computer, only 9.6 percent used on their mobile devices.

Source: statista

Recent surveys show in United States ad-blocking usage is 40 percent on laptops, 15 percent on mobile devices.

Source: Marketing Land

When consumers were asked about 13 ad types, online pop-ups were the most disliked, with an average rank of 4.52 (one is most disliked, 13 is least disliked).

Source: Feintuch Communications

US digital ad revenue is expected to reach nearly $100 billion by 2021, according to BI Intelligence estimates. This represents compound annual growth of 8% from the $68.9 billion expected in 2016.

Source: Business Insider

Mobile is positioned to become the top destination for digital ad spending as advertisers continue to attempt to close the "mobile opportunity gap."

Source: Business Insider

Digital video advertising will grow faster than any other segment over the next five years, as consumers shift time spent online to phones and tablets. Revenue in this category is forecast to rise from $8.5 billion in 2016 to $23 billion in 2021.

Source: Business Insider

Social advertising in all formats is gaining traction and will be among the key drivers of digital ad growth in the next five years. Social ad revenue is poised to climb to $30.8 billion by 2021, up from $15.5 billion this year.

Source: Business Insider

Artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and sponsored content will help propel further digital ad growth in the next decade.

Source: Business Insider

Programmatic media buying is on track to account for nearly 80 percent of all mobile and digital display ad placement in 2017, and is expected to represent about $33 billion in spending.

Source: AdWeek

Programmatic advertising has continued to rise in popularity predicting that spending will reach over $45 billion by 2019.

Source: AdWeek

Program Themes

  • Online Advertising
  • Advertising Effectiveness
  • Advertising Trends
  • Digital Marketing
  • Brand Security
  • Digital Trends