Progress Connect Dinner Series: There’s Brand Safety In Numbers

Our Progress Connect Dinners are a quarterly tradition where we bring a subset of our network together to discuss some of the most pressing trends in the media, marketing, and ad tech industries

July 17, 2017 ? The ad tech industry has found itself confronted with a rapidly growing challenge affecting all parties, including the average American household. The importance of Brand Safety as a topic has transformed into a movement to address current issues like the lack of transparency in advertising inventory and the proliferation of fake news on the web. With programmatic expanding its scope as the primary method of ad buying, brands are faced with the threat of losing valuable customers through negative brand associations should their ad appear where fake news has left its mark. These days, it?s not just the ad tech industry concerned with fake news. With its ability to sway public masses, fake news continues to make appearances in headlines around the world due to the threats posed by impact it has had on political elections and decisions in real time. This damaging phenomenon has roots in ad tech, and therefore needs to be addressed by the industry; it seems there needs to be accountability held for the creation of this dangerous product.

In June, several Progress Partners senior advisors sat down with two dozen senior leaders from White Ops, Integral Ad Science, GroupM, VaynerMedia, Nielsen, TVision, SheKnows, Pixability, among others, to continue the dialogue around brand safety. Facilitating the discussion among this assortment of digital media, advertising, and publishing founders and executives, the dinner served as a platform to address these issues head on in an intimate and dynamic setting. The conversation focused on what has been working, what hasn?t, and where we can head as an industry. At the intersection of media, advertising, and technology, Brand Safety doesn?t always fit squarely into all scenarios within programmatic, nor can the industry solve issues of fake news solely by generating algorithms. The key to understanding Brand Safety is being able to understand its various threats, and getting brands to work with advertisers and publishers to reduce the occurrences, and over time, rid these threats from the industry completely.

The importance is inherent in gathering and disseminating ideas with others leaders in this space as the lack of Brand Safety is still a rather unaddressed concept in ad tech specifically. It has left the industry with many unanswered questions regarding the digital advertising process in its entirety.

Marc Goldberg, CEO, Trust Metrics, has answered many of these open-ended questions about Brand Safety in ad tech over the last several years. As an executive in the industry, Goldberg acknowledges the importance of sharing ideas to better combat industry flaws such as fake news, transparency issues, and other aspects of brand safety. ?Dinners like this are important,? said Goldberg, who understands that getting all the parties in the ecosystem together can create meaningful dialogue and chances to learn, adding, ?it gave me the opportunity to teach and share.”

?The room was filled with thought leaders who are all concerned and recognize that the integrity of the business is dependent on brand safety,? noted Bret Brase, Managing Director (Progress Partners). ?They recognize that the problem is real, the solution is hard, and they?re working together to solve it.?

One key takeaway Goldberg has attempted to circulate with respect to Brand Safety is that fault cannot be placed on just one sector. Although Facebook and Google have created their own approaches to addressing the pervasiveness of fake news on their platforms, they have been an easy target for much of the blame. Publishers and media platforms must step up and play larger roles in ridding the web of fake news and fixing the supply chain.  Ultimately, brands can fix the supply chain by demanding better inventory from publishers. This is what we are seeing with Marc Pritchard from P&G, Keith Weed from Unilver, and Kristen Lemkau from JP Morgan Chase becoming leaders of change through their outspokenness on the topic.  Brands must have an active role in the placements of their programmatic advertisements.

 The discourse created from this dinner is both healthy and productive for the industry to grow and improve. We plan to continue this dialogue, while addressing many more current topics within the digital media and adtech spaces, through future dinner events across the US and more importantly, in October at our annual conference, Progress Connect. If you are interested in attending or sponsoring, please contact Emily Leinbach for more information:

Read more:

Jun. 2, 2017, “Advertisers Set the Tone; If They Don’t Care, Nobody Will: Q&A with Marc Goldberg, CEO, Trust Metrics,”,