Just a year ago, YouTube was seen as a safe place to put ad dollars and the idea that Facebook could miscalculate the success metrics it gave to advertisers seemed out of the question. However, after well-publicised advertising scandals hit both Google and Facebook in 2017, as well as the Association of National Advertisers’ investigation into rebates and Procter & Gamble marketing boss Marc Pritchard’s seminal speech about media transparency, marketers have realised they have lost accountability for media spend and must take back control.

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, which surveyed 35 global brands with spend in excess of $30bn, 65% have improved their internal capabilities – such as hiring a head of programmatic – around brand safety over the last 12 months. Some 40% are developing in-house resource to help tackle ad fraud, with 34% saying they started doing this within the last 12 months and just 6% saying they were already doing it 12 months ago.

This is reflected in marketing recruitment. LinkedIn recently ran a survey looking at the most desired skills recruitment companies look for among its members when hiring for new marketing roles. It found the most desired skills to be programmatic media buying, machine learning and data mining – three disciplines that are now paramount in the quest for control.

How brands are taking back control

“It’s now important all parties in the digital media ecosystem are working towards a common goal – it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that media quality is of the highest possible standard, from publisher’s making inventory available in an exchange, all the way through to agency traders buying that inventory,” says O2’s CMO Nina Bibby.

O2 “constantly reviews” its agency and ad tech stacks to ensure brand safety is accounted for and that its advertising supply chain is as tight as possible. And Bibby says that goes beyond brand safety to look at ensuring media quality.

Bibby explains: “There are numerous areas of media quality that can be measured beyond brand safety such as ad fraud, ad clutter and ad collision, to name a few. It can sometimes be difficult to track campaign performance utilising all of these metrics. By amalgamating all these measures into an overall ‘quality score’, it enables a much more simple and efficient way to measure media quality, and ultimately fight ad fraud.”

At B&Q, new hires have been to improving the safety of its digital advertising. It has brought in a digital media manager, with Richard Sherwood, customer and marketing director for B&Q, saying it is a role that’s already paying for itself.

He explains: “Our digital media manager is responsible for ensuring we work with a brand safety and ad verification partner that also protects us against fraudulent impressions. We not only see significant savings from blocking these impressions, but also drive performance via the subsequent revenues associated with re-investing this media spend on non-fraudulent media buys.”

Having strong protection in place not only enables you to prevent brand damage, but it also helps to ensure your advertising is seen by the person you’re targeting.

Richard Sherwood, B&Q

Brands are also investing in their own technology to gain greater control over programmatic buys. Pernod Ricard, for example,…