The case for pre-bid and post-bid brand safety measures to advance your advertising strategy

March 24, 2022 | 4 minute read
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Brand safety helps to preserve customer trust by preventing advertisers from appearing in environments that would undermine their brand reputation. The challenge is that customer trust is influenced by ever-changing factors including culture and current events, so what’s “safe” at one time (or for one brand, or in one context) may be harmful in another. Ensuring brand safety in today’s nuanced marketplace requires a multifaceted approach that accounts for the entire advertising process—from pre-bid to post-bid strategies for both programmatic and direct ad buys.

Is it better to use pre-bid targeting, post-bid blocking, or both?

The short answer: it depends. The use cases and objectives for pre-bid targeting in your programmatic ad strategy (even exclusion targeting, which some in the industry refer to as “blocking”) and post-bid blocking are quite different.

Pre-bid targeting—including exclusion segments that have been identified as high-invalid traffic (IVT) sites or unsafe ad environments —is primarily designed to increase ad budget efficiency. The segments are generally set up within a demand-side platform (DSP) and allow advertisers to set parameters around their campaigns or line items to bid only on the most relevant incoming requests.

Because this targeting is applied prior to a bidding decision (and thus before any ad has loaded on the page), it’s inherently probabilistic: you can’t know with certainty, for example, if an impression will be MRC (Media Rating Council) viewable before it happens.

There will always be some degree of false positives and negatives, even with sophisticated modeling. Advertisers understand that there’s a built-in level of uncertainty in pre-bid segmentation. It’s still an extraordinarily valuable tool to avoid wasting ad spend while allocating ad dollars to the most promising opportunities. 

Post-bid blocking occurs downstream from pre-bid segments and is primarily deterministic: it occurs after an impression is won. For things like IVT avoidance, the post-bid blocking decision is based on real-time signals unlike blocking that happens during the pre-bid stage which is based on historical patterns observed against web pages and users. Post-bid blocking detects IVT in real-time so blocking decisions are based on what’s happening in the moment, allowing for a more nuanced approach.

Similarly, if the DSP doesn’t have reliable data for the incoming bid request URL, it will not be able to apply pre-bid targeting correctly. In a post-bid environment, the URL is detected from JavaScript running directly on the page.

Another important distinction lies in where these products are generally used. Pre-bid is almost exclusively applied within programmatic environments—this is why pre-bid segments are most often found within a DSP’s user interface. Post-bid blocking can be applied anywhere, not just on programmatic buys but on direct ones, too. If an advertiser is working directly with a high-quality news publisher, for example, they may still wish to avoid certain news topics or even users from a certain geographic location. In this case it can be useful to apply post-bid blocking even when pre-bid segments are unavailable.

An advertiser’s reasons for using pre-bid and post-bid blocking can vary depending on their intended outcomes. Pre-bid segmentation is primarily used to spend ad budgets as efficiently as possible. Post-bid blocking may save money (because the advertiser’s ad server is never called on blocked impressions) but the primary motivation is less about efficiency and more about protecting the brand’s carefully-cultivated image in a dynamic online environment.

How to define a brand safety strategy with pre- and post-bid

1. Define your objectives

Deciding which objective is most important to your strategy will help you identify which solution to leverage.

  • Objective #1 – Maximize programmatic investments: Use pre-bid targeting to avoid buying fraudulent impressions and allocate advertising dollars to the most promising opportunities.
  • Objective #2 – Avoid unsuitable and unsafe environments: Use post-bid blocking to protect your brand from unsafe, unsuitable environments and gain better insights to optimize campaigns. 

If both are equally important, consider applying both solutions in tandem.

2. Ensure your brand safety solution’s capabilities meet your high standards

Before you execute, do your due diligence about the technology you’re employing. 

An effective pre-bid solution should have:

  • Low level of false positives and negatives
  • Sophisticated modeling
  • The ability to scale with your advertising goals

An effective post-bid solution should have:

  • A built-in infrastructure for detecting both IVT and SIVT across platforms
  • Customizable, robust brand safety blocking rules that can be modified at any time without re-trafficking tags (even mid-campaign)
  • The ability to set blocking criteria for geographic areas and domain lists

When defining your brand safety approach, context matters. Watch our on-demand brand safety and suitability webinar to learn how contextual intelligence can help you preserve customer trust through meaningful brand safe and brand suitability strategies.

Then, find out how Oracle Advertising helps ensure brand safety in today’s complex marketplace.

Oracle Content Marketing Team

Oracle's Advertising and CX Content Marketing team aligns content strategy, creation, and amplification across global Advertising and CX marketing and collaborators.

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