While many of us are stuck at home and stores are closed, many brands are using this time to focus on advertising. However, deciding where to place ads can be a tricky business. You don’t want your brand showing up beside fake-news or low-quality content because it will lower your value. But artificial intelligence company GumGum offers a solution based on analyzing content with popular Covid-19 search keywords. They recently released a report saying that contrary to popular belief, these keywords are actually safe for advertising.
Finding Safe Keywords
Brand safety is an important topic for many advertisers looking to get their ads in front of the right audiences. However, advertisers struggle to decide on where their ads show up on many different websites. Particularly, they are careful about how their ads look in the context of the content they surround. One example is that for many years, advertisers used a keyword tool to block ads around content using the word ‘gay’. But they missed many websites which used the word ‘gay’ in a positive light, therefore alienating that audience from the publisher.
According to GumGum CTO Ken Weiner: “Even when we apply the most conservative settings, more than half the content is safe,” he said. “Coronavirus is touching every facet of society, so it’s hardly surprising that even the most innocuous content references it. Keyword blocking just goes way too far, which is why people are calling for whitelisting of specific websites. That mindset shows what’s wrong with the way people think about brand safety these days. The idea that you have to choose between reach and safety is false. Our industry needs to wake up to what’s technologically available.”
Missed Opportunities During a Pandemic
Due to the fear of appearing beside low-quality or damaging content, advertisers are blocking publishers using a keyword tool. However, it is difficult to assess the quality of content based on keywords alone, and for this reason GumGum says brands are missing out. GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder commented on this phenomenon:
“All the concerns raised lately about coronavirus keyword blocking hurting publishers are valid,” he said, “But this data shows that keyword-based brand safety is also failing brands. It’s effectively freezing advertisers out of a huge volume of safe trending content, limiting their reach at a time when it should actually be expanding as more people than ever are consuming online content.”
According to the CEO, brands were blocked from websites using many popular Covid-19 search keywords. These included the words “covid”, “covid-19”, “coronavirus”, “pandemic”, and “quarantine”. GumGum’s content analysis safety engine called Verity which uses machine learning identified 1.5 billion opportunities for brands to advertise. Unfortunately, because of keyword blocking they chose to stay away.
Machines Checking for Safety
Verity works by combining various machine learning models to assess threat levels on a website. The engine’s ability to assess threats is adjusted based on several factors which gives the company more confidence to assume a site is safe. It also used natural language processing and computer vision analysis for its conclusions, so advertisers can be sure it’s right.
Armed with this information, brands can confidently advertise on websites talking about the coronavirus. A keyword tool may, after all, not be the most reliable indicator of the quality or intention of content on a page. Because of this brands will have to start a lot more judgment calls while technology progresses to eventually call the shots.
On the contrary, people searching could also learn some better searching methods. Adding phrases like “CDC’ or the web domain of your government website could help bring forward official pages.
As the Covid 19 search madness goes down for the moment, expect it to spur back up shortly. A second wave is due to hit in the coming months according to various reports.