Programmatic Brand Safety: A Lionâs Guide | DMA

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Programmatic Brand Safety: A Lionâs Guide


Brand safety can be a touchy subject in the programmatic world, so, like your brand, let’s keep the conversation PG by talking about the Lion King instead.

With digital advertising spend set to overtake TV spend this year, now is the time to take full advantage of the digital marketing landscape. However, while there are a host of opportunities online, it’s no secret that the internet isn’t made entirely of sunshine and rainbows which can cause some concerns when it comes to online marketing. With worries of ad fraud and brand safety in the air some advertisers are still hesitant to embrace all that the digital world has to offer by taking the programmatic plunge.

Lion King internet meme

But fear not, Mufasa, you’re not the only one with your brand's best interests at heart!

Why is brand safety important?

You’ve worked hard to build up a strong brand reputation, everyone knows and respects you as the king of the jungle and now you’re ready to set your new campaign free in the world of programmatic.

Great decision!

Programmatic advertising is an excellent way to ensure you’re speaking directly to the right people; but what happens if those people are looking at content that doesn’t align with your brand? Or reading an article that portrays your industry or company in a bad light? Advertising to them at that moment could lead to embarrassing results…

Display ad alongside inappropriate content

Who’s watching Simba’s back?



As loyal advisers to the client (that’s you, Mufasa) our vigilant account managers can be thought of as Zazu, always keeping a watchful eye over proceedings as the campaign unfolds ensuring that your brand image is kept safe.

Whilst campaigns are running we continually monitor activity to ensure brand safety is preserved. We regularly run placement reports to investigate which sites your ads are appearing on and actively block any unsuitable sites. We also keep a master list of known inappropriate, fraudulent and suspicious sites that we do not wish to serve ads on. These sites are blocked from the outset of any campaign.

In addition we periodically check ad exchange reports to determine if any ad exchange is producing suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity. By removing these exchanges from our targeting we further reduce any chance of appearing on inappropriate or illegal sites.

Furthermore while we positively target keywords to ensure your ads are directed towards relevant inventory online, we also block negative keywords meaning that we can be sure that we won’t display ads next to unsavory or detrimental content which may appear on a trusted site - like in the (admittedly made up) example above.



With deep wisdom of the internet and shamanistic abilities, more commonly referred to as top secret algorithms, the role of Rafiki is played by Google.

Google uses proprietary classification technology to analyse the content of a web page and assigns it one of their four defined Digital Content Labels. The classification process looks at hundreds of aspects of a site in its construction, content, quality and user experience. The brand safety classifications are updated monthly to reflect any updates to a site. Content classified for mature audiences and any unclassified content is blocked across all of our programmatic campaigns as a minimum.

In addition to classifying inventory using brand safety levels, Google categorises inventory based on the subject matter of its surrounding content. The following categories are blocked across all Periscopix programmatic campaigns by default:

- Adult

- Derogatory

- Weapons

- Violence

- Suggestive

- Profanity

- Alcohol

- Drugs

Timon & Pumbaa

Timon & Pumbaa

DoubleClick Bid Manager integrates with third party verification technology such as DoubleVerify andIntegral Ad Science. For more information on the additional thresholds enforced by these services and any implementation costs involved, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your account manager.

So if you just can’t wait to be king of the programmatic landscape give us a call today, safe in the knowledge that with Merkle|Periscopix looking after your programmatic campaigns you really can say Hakuna Matata!

To read this blog written by Michael Tolfrey on the Periscopix website, please click here.

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