LONDON: Digital marketers face challenges on several different fronts but for travel company TUI, brand safety is key, according to a top executive.

"[Brand safety] is the number one issue [for us]," Christian Armond, TUI's general manager of digital marketing, told a JICWEBS (Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland) town hall event discussing this issue, along with fraud and viewability, which was covered by The Drum.

"I'd rather not advertise than be compromised with my ads appearing in the wrong place," he said.

The "wrong place" can, of course, mean different things to different brands. TUI, for example, would regard gambling or porn sites as being the wrong place, although fashion brand Diesel recently announced it would be advertising on the latter.

"TUI could be spraying millions of impressions or banner ads out there and it only takes one or two to appear in the wrong place for the Daily Mail to get up in arms about it all," Armond said.

Another consideration is the immediate context. "Making sure that our ads don't appear next to coverage of disasters like the [bomb attack] in Tunisia or the recent plane crashes is one the biggest challenges we have at the moment," said Armond.

He claimed he'd rather stop advertising rather than "run the risk of even one ad appearing next to content like that".

But it's not an easy task, as Private Eye's regular "Malgorithms" column ("a feature dedicated to excellence in contextual advertising …") demonstrates: Emirates, the airline, for example, recently found itself advertising next to a New Zealand Herald story with the headline "Three planes 'seconds from disaster'".

TUI is dedicating a portion of its digital budget to addressing brand safety issues and assesses whether partners meet the good practice principles recommended by the Digital Trading Standards Group, a cross-industry body. JICWEBS also offers Content Verification Principles to reduce ad placement on inappropriate websites.

While Armond was prepared to act himself, he was critical of agencies. "It feels to me that if I'm already paying you for the advertising that we're delivering the onus then is on you [agencies] to make sure that is legal, proper and right for us," he said. "We shouldn't end up double paying for that."

Data sourced from The Drum, Private Eye; additional content by Warc staff