DeShá Runnels and I spoke at the podcast event of the year, Evolutions by Podcast Movement, to share our expert opinion on four key takeaways crucial to audio advertising and the transformation of brand safety.
- Brand safety is important; however, brand suitability is key—the concept of focusing on creating parameters around positive associations with content adjacency in the user experience.
- It takes due diligence to ensure your brand is in brand-safe content – we have full teams dedicated to this alone.
- Brand safety is individualized and personalized for each brand - not a one size fits all solution.
- What should brands do they find themselves aligned with the wrong content--The key here is communication between brands, ARM, and the show and to limit reactions, especially online or publicly.
Let’s dive in!
The Importance of Brand Safety
There’s a big difference between brand safety and brand suitability. Sure they sound very similar, but they describe two entirely different concepts. One refers to creating and refining the controls to mitigate damage to a brand’s reputation, while the other is focused on creating parameters around positive associations with content adjacency in the user experience. At Ad Results Media, brand suitability is our focus as we pride ourselves on being expert matchmakers and therefore identifying the shows that will build and reinforce our client’s brand.
While podcasting has gained popularity over the last several years it is an unregulated space and, consequently, anyone can publish any content. Advertisers now need to know what they are potentially getting into with regard to brand-safe content. However, it is important to note that brand safety is different for each brand. It's vital to have a full understanding of our client’s needs and most importantly to recognize and acknowledge what their “floor” is per se. The shows that you’re advertising on are reflective of your brand, whether that’s intentional or not. Therefore, as a result, the content within those shows can also be subconsciously associated with your brand values by listeners.
Ensuring your Brand is in “Brand Safe” Content
It’s all about the upfront work. That’s our specialty. First and foremost, teams internally and the people executing media buys need to align on brand values, goals, and no-fly zones. From there, it's work, we are just starting to have ratings in the podcast industry like TV or clear levers to pull like on social or digital. At ARM, we have a full team of people who vet new shows before clients start to partner, they listen to multiple episodes and flag key areas that have been identified by clients (politics, vulgar language, inappropriate content, etc.), and we’re constantly making updates to our brand safety buckets, especially around divisive content and commentary. The planners and strategists also review the content of shows and then provide to clients for final approval. Depending on the client some clients will then run background checks or loop in their PR agencies for another layer of review. It’s personalized approaches like this that will lead to the proper relationship alignment between brands and podcasts.
It's a Personalized Approach that Matters
At the end of the day, a personalized approach leads to the proper relationship alignment between brands and podcasts. There is no one size fits all.
During our panel discussion, we discussed how two clients, Molson Coors and Harry’s, think about brand safety and choosing partners that align with their values. These clients are very different, one is a very established household name while the other is newer with lower brand recognition, however, both have strong company values and emphasize brand safety and showing up in content that aligns with their values.
While some content is clearly off bounds an interesting overlap between the two brands was their initial aversion to True Crime. Neither brand wanted to be associated with murders or crimes but after deliberation and examples of the wide breadth of true crime offerings, each brand found a path forward. For Molson Coors, we were able to unlock this category by finding the correct creative approach that juxtaposes the darkness of True Crime with the brightness and moment of chill with Vizzy and Coors Light. For Harry’s the key was finding the right shows and avoiding any shows that described murders in detail.
Aligning Your Content to Values
What happens if a brand does find itself aligned with content that doesn’t align with its values? Even if you do all the upfront work and ensure you align with the content of the show, the host, etc. Life happens, we’ve seen over the last couple of years macro trends influencing what shows are covering, changing topics completely. Hosts are also people, so they make mistakes and sometimes change their minds. The key here is communication between brands, ARM, and the show and to limit reactions, especially online or publicly. This sometimes results in brands parting ways with shows and other times creates a strong bond between the host and brand.
What did you take away from Podcast Movement?