In online advertising context, brand safety refers to practises and tools allowing to ensure that an ad will not appear in a context that can damage the advertiser’s brand.
The general types of potential avoidance categories as listed by the IAB:
Facilitation of Illegal Activities
Controversial Subjects (Occult, Taboos, Unusual Lifestyles, etc.)
Extreme Graphic/Explicit Violence
Incentivized Manipulation of Measurements
Unmoderated User Generated Content
An other aspect of brand safety is the necessity to avoid some news contexts. A cruiseline doesn’t want his ad to appear alongside a shipwreck news. That type of risk is particularly high with contextual targeting.
There are different forms of brand safety measures. Within an ad network, all websites can be scanned to detect inappropriate content. Brand safety measures can also be taken at the campaign level. In this case either a code is embedded with the ad to scan ad emplacements context in real time where either a black list of URLs or domains is used.
When an inappropriate content is detected, the ad veriification vendor prevents the ad to be displayed or the URL is flagged for post-campaign reporting to the advertiser.
Brand safety services were initially offered to agencies by dedicated tools and services but they are now increasingly embedded into ad servers, ad exchanges and ad networks solutions. They can also be embedded with ad visibility measurement tools.
Brand safety is only a part of ad verification.
Unsafe contents according to an Adloox survey based on 5 billion impressions served during the first half of 2012.
An example of Brand verification options on SiteScout DSP