Contextual advertising is on the rise, with two-thirds of marketers reporting that they were going to significantly increase their contextual advertising in 2023.
And it’s not hard to see why.
Placing ads next to suitable, relevant content targets your ideal demographic and increases purchase intent.
But contextual advertising also raises important questions about brand suitability.
What is brand suitability, you ask? Glad you asked.
In this article, we’ll cover the what, why, and how of brand suitability, so you can optimize your ad campaigns and strengthen your reputation.
Brand suitability refers to the contextual targeting of ads to align your campaigns with appropriate content.
To reach the right audience and protect your brand, your ads should run alongside content that reflects your brand’s values and encourages positive connotations.
Brand suitability strategies help preserve a brand’s reputation. Placing ads next to positive, relevant content endorses the brand by association.
It also helps brands and advertisers reach the right audiences. For instance, an ad for high-end watches would likely do better on a luxury lifestyle blog than on a blog that focuses on how to have great fashion on a budget.
TL;DR: Ads appearing next to relevant, positive content with a suitable target audience showcase your brand identity and facilitate conversions.
It’s easy to get brand safety and brand suitability confused.
Think of it this way — brand suitability is an extension of brand safety.
Brand safety seeks to prevent ads appearing next to harmful or inappropriate content, such as misinformation, violence, or hate speech.
For example, in 2021, big brands like Nike and Amazon were found to have their ads misplaced next to COVID misinformation.
Brand suitability focuses on aligning ads with content best fit to a brand’s identity and values.
Imagine you have a luxury sports car brand.
While your vehicles’ super-turbo engines appeal to your target audience, placing ads next to traffic accident content would probably be a poor advertising choice.
Despite the importance of brand suitability, a recent IAB report showed that only 25% of companies take brand safety measures — and they don’t have a brand suitability strategy.
If that’s you, you’re losing out on targeting the right people in the right places.
While your ads may not pop up next to hate speech, they may appear next to unsuitable content, targeting the wrong target audience and muddling your brand image.
Protect your brand and create more effective ad campaigns with Seekr Score.
High-quality digital advertising campaigns drive customers down your conversion funnels.
Low-quality online advertising due to poor ad placement can seriously impact your reputation and lead quality.
Here are a few examples of misplaced ads paired with unsuitable content.
Let’s throwback to the early days of the internet when a Folgers coffee ad was inadvertently placed next to news content about how coffee triggers heart attacks.
Needless to say, your clients’ products won’t look good next to content that classifies them as a health risk.
The following YouTube ad for cruise vacations couldn’t be more poorly placed. The programmatic ads have hooked onto the word ‘cruise’, with disastrous effect.
Instead of encouraging vacationers to book, this video of a sinking cruise ship … well … does the opposite.
It’s common for food brands to misplace ads next to content about animals — think hot dog ads alongside content about puppies.
But Mcdonald's got caught short on this issue …
This ad makes them look insensitive, but also like they’re selling 110-year-old lobster meat.
In the following example, Drinks Delivery placed an ad next to a celebrity’s tale of hardship.
In this case, the brand is promoting the very product that caused someone’s addiction. With a brand suitability tool in tow, Drinks Delivery could’ve prevented this fiasco.
Resort community Bethany Bay, experienced a double fail in the following ad campaign …
Not only did it place an ad next to a shocking story about the location it’s advertising, but the wording makes for an insensitive joke.
Brand suitability helps you maintain a great brand image and target the right demographic.
It also helps you stay relevant and encourage customer loyalty.
Let’s take a closer look at why brand suitability is so important.
It’s not enough for your advertising to be “brand-safe”.
Ads placed next to relevant, thought-provoking content solidify brand integrity. It’s as though your brand is saying “I agree with this content”.
If your ads appear next to questionable or irrelevant content, it undermines your values. Plus, it increases the risk of a PR crisis or unwanted controversy.
In other words, brand suitability helps you make sure your ads don’t show up alongside brand-damaging content.
Contextual advertising matches your ads with on-target content. This, in turn, increases your conversion rates, as consumers are more likely to buy a product from an ad that’s relevant to the webpage they’re on.
In this sense, ad relevance increases audience engagement to springboard conversions.
70% of customers show they trust a brand by making more purchases.
That’s why it’s important to avoid offending your audience by placing ads next to offensive content.
Content that aligns with your brand values keeps these existing customers on your side. It reminds them why they trust you.
It shows that your ethics, goals, and interests mirror theirs and that you’re an expert in your niche.
Ads next to unsuitable or unsafe content can lead to boycotts and negative user-generated content.
Purchase intent is higher among consumers who view in-context ads.
Contextual ads reach people who share your mindset. If someone’s listening to a podcast about golf, an ad for golfing tours is speaking to the right audience.
This helps you understand where your target demographic converts best.
By directly targeting the right demographic, you won't waste money displaying ads on unsuitable platforms.
TL;DR: Brand suitability helps you place ads in the ideal spots that’ll resonate most with your audience.
Brand suitability strategies help you make sure your ads are showing up in front of the right people at the right time.
Imagine an ad for a baby’s crib on a heavy metal blog. While the content isn’t offensive or harmful, the target audience isn’t right.
Instead, picture tired parents looking for bedtime solutions on a parenting blog. They’re far more likely to click an ad about a crib.
This contextual suitability encourages meaningful interactions, maximizing the potential for audience-driven growth.
Move from a defensive advertising stance to a proactive one.
Instead of focusing exclusively on brand safety, it’s vital to also consider brand suitability.
While brand safety is about avoiding harm, brand suitability is about seeking alignment.
How can you aim for alignment?
Embrace contextual relevance.
Placing ads next to related content reaches your target audience and aligns with their mindset at that moment.
Your ads about gourmet coffee beans should reach people searching for the best coffee makers. They’re already thinking about brewing coffee, so they’re going to need quality beans.
With the right brand suitability tools, you can dive deeper than content categories. You can leverage platforms that you might have previously avoided due to concerns about their less suitable content.
For instance, let’s say you’ve been avoiding advertising on podcast platforms. You don’t want to risk your ads getting sandwiched in the middle of a controversial conversation that doesn’t align with your brand.
By using the Seekr™ Civility Score™, you can strategically sidestep specific episodes that aren’t suitable for your brand.
This kind of contextual precision helps you maximize engagement opportunities. With the Seekr™ Civility Score™ on your side, you can advertise on all types of content platforms without worrying about poor content alignment.
Brand suitability ad tech can help you target programmatic advertising campaigns to the right audiences.
To improve adjacency between ads and content, try these tools:
The Seekr Score™ is a numeric representation (between one and 100) that represents an article’s reliability and quality.
High-scoring content demonstrates credibility. Low-scoring articles are subjective and use hyperbolic language.
Understanding content reliability helps advertisers know exactly where to place their clients’ ads.
Ensure brand suitability when planning your advertising campaigns.
Need a way to discover which podcast episodes to advertise on and which to avoid?
The Seekr™ Civility Score™ helps advertisers select the ideal podcast episodes for their ad placements by categorizing episodes into high, medium, or low civility tiers.
Seekr bases these tiers on objective metrics that quantify how frequent and severe personal attacks are among the nation's leading podcasts.
Conventionally, marketers create keyword and domain exclusion lists to stop ads appearing next to content that doesn’t align with their specific brand values.
This works to a point, but it’s tough to think of every topic that could be unsuitable for your brand.
The programmatic advertising industry is shifting. It’s no longer about just creating a safe environment for ads.
You also need to think about whether it's suitable to advertise next to specific content.
With Seekr’s fully automated AI-driven rating system for digital content, you can make sure to always place your ads near relevant content.
Don’t leave it to chance. Learn more about how the Seekr Score helps you ensure brand suitability with your advertising.