Brand safety in ag advertising

The importance of brand safety in a changing media market.

In its simplest form, the concept of brand safety is the protection of a brand against the placement of or exposure to inappropriate content. This is defined as content that is obscene, hateful, extremist, militaristic, and the like.

Part defense, part conservation, the goal is to keep your brand’s identity intact when these blips happen. They can occur when unforeseen circumstances arise, such as amidst a crisis, or they can be among today’s highly polarized and politicized environment. Whatever the reason, the warm and welcoming ag community has received an overflow of unseemly and offensive comments from its own neighbors and increasingly angry advocacy groups. This has spawned a whole new need for brand safety and security. Therefore, it’s necessary to know how to shield your brand’s identity from these 21st century threats.

When it comes to brand safety, Grapeshot recommends the following:

  • The importance of connecting content with actual humans – In the world of bots and automated views, it can be difficult to differentiate when information is accessed intentionally or by a machine. It’s integral to confirm that these connections are human and we have some control over the outcome.
  • Define what is safe for your brand – You can’t guarantee the placement of your ad and the surrounding content, but do as much investigation of the media outlet, its audiences and subsequent advertisers to determine who and what else will appear alongside your messaging, and who may harm your brand with unwelcome shares and comments. Be aware of the following:
    • Indecency, obscenity and hate speech – Overtly inappropriate content is an obvious advertising deterrent and though we don’t expect to run into it in the ag media space, attracting offensive comments and shares needs to be addressed. Have a plan to adapt and react with the least impact to your brand and its reputation.
    • Conflict of interests – Direct competitor adjacencies may be the least of your concerns when protecting your brand. Consider all brands and brand messages in the space. Are these the types of marketers and messages you want near your brand? Will you put your brand safety at risk simply by associating with less reputable or more polarizing content?
    • Environmental hazards or poor livestock welfare – Your brand would not want to share space with anything potentially hazardous to the land, irresponsible in the handling of animals, and abusing products used by farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and ag dealers. Work with your media buyers and creative team to ensure that there is nothing that is going to reflect negatively on your brand within your messaging or the environment in which it’s being placed.
    • Advocacy organizations – Heed caution and fully vet any context surrounding advertising alongside advocacy organizations. It should be noted that many advocacy organizations have good intentions and benefit agriculture. However, some – often with vague and neutral names – have objectives, messages and actions that can be contradictory and potentially harmful to your brand.
    • Politics – The ag world relies heavily on the political sphere. From USDA regulations to state university extension programs, ag depends on funding and support from the government to navigate imports, exports and land grants, among many other programs. That said, not all politics is public and much of it can be vociferous, inappropriate and to the point of spam. Carefully explore your brand representation in any political context.
  • Transparency – This is the ultimate test of advertising in the 21st century and a key component of brand safety. To fully assess a publication, online or offline, prior to purchasing a media buy, ensures full accountability.
  • Engagement – Look at the comments history of the content of your selected media. Who’s commenting and what’s being said can make what seems like a benign, endemic environment a hostile or potentially harmful place for your brand. Watch out for those pot-stirrers and trouble-makers who will share or respond to content with antagonistic or ill-informed arguments.
  • Monitoring – Maintain accurate ad and media monitoring, to confirm all media buys, make adjustments, targeting or obtain a retraction as necessary.

Brand safety may seem contradictory to the ag community, but it must be carefully managed and moderated. The modern world of communications requires that we take great care to protect our brands and ensure that they are given the greatest opportunities to be successful.