Survey: 4 in 10 brands deliver ads on unsafe sites

Research from Sizmek has revealed the extent of brand safety concerns among marketers, with 38% admitting to having delivered an advert on a controversial or unsafe web page. The study, which surveyed over 500 decision-making brand marketers across Europe and the US, also showed that only 61% of marketers currently have a third-party brand safety solution/partner in place on their digital campaign. This new research from Sizmek is the first in a series of three reports focusing on the challenges that marketers face in the current digital landscape.

Barriers to brand safety

  • Finding the right solution: Brand marketers are also struggling to cope with the pressure to serve in brand safe environments, with 64% finding it challenging to implement an effective brand safety solution and 57% stating their current solution is too expensive.
  • Impact on performance: 64% of respondents said that achieving brand safety on campaigns negatively impacts the performance. 71% find it difficult to achieve reach while delivering to the right audience in the right context.
  • Impact of consumer privacy regulations: 77% of marketers predict that data regulations such as Europe’s GDPR will make targeting audiences using third-party data increasingly difficult. This means that advanced contextual targeting will become essential to build out new audiences.

New priorities for marketers

  • The right partners: With 62% of respondents admitting that the digital media landscape has become too complex, it is clear that marketers are looking for more efficient and transparent relationships with ad tech vendors.
    • 64% prioritize reducing the number of vendors in their supply chain
    • 76% prioritize getting more transparency for digital display inventor
    • 63% agree that the ‘walled gardens’ don’t offer enough inventory transparency
  • Taking responsibility: When exploring who is responsible for brand safety, 38% of marketers say that pressure sits with the brand itself, whereas only 24% of marketers believe primary responsibility should lie with demand-side platforms and other ad tech vendors.
  • Investing in brand safety: 80% of marketers say that achieving both audience and contextual targeting at scale is either a critical or high priority in the coming year. Among those marketers, 78% plan to improve their contextual targeting capabilities in the same period.

“The digital media ecosystem is complex and fragmented, so it is no surprise that marketers are prioritizing efficiency and transparency from their partners,” said Hardeep Bindra, VP Product Management, Real-time Decisioning Services at Sizmek.  “These survey results confirm what we’ve been hearing from our clients about simplifying supply chain and the challenges they face with brand safety and a complicated vendor landscape.  The results also validate our full-transparency and full-controls strategy; we give marketers clear insight into the media buying process and the tools to take action.”

To view Sizmek’s new report on what marketers need from media, brand safety and partnerships, please click here.


Sizmek worked with a third-party research firm, Qualtrics, surveying 522 participants in Spring 2018 working within the marketing or advertising function of a brand. The participants were decisionmakers or influencers for the advertising and marketing budget for their organizations in 2018.

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