NEW YORK: Avoiding association with controversial online content is more important than ever for brands and advertisers, many of whom are voting with their feet by moving spend to premium publishers in a bid to secure brand safety.

That is the course of action being taken by almost half (45%) of more than 300 US marketers, who were surveyed in April for a new report from tech firm Oath.

Working with Advertiser Perceptions, a research company, Oath discovered that the same proportion of marketers (45%) believe social media platforms are doing a “poor job” on brand safety.

While half (51%) of respondents think these companies are doing a “good job” in dealing with the issue, nearly all of them (99%) remain concerned about their ads appearing in brand safe environments and 58% report being more concerned about brand safety this year than they were in 2017.

In addition, 54% feel that user-generated content sites like YouTube are addressing brand safety concerns, but a significant proportion (42%) say they are not.

However, ad exchanges and demand-side platforms (DSPs) appear to be winning the confidence of marketers, with a full 70% of those surveyed reporting they are addressing brand safety concerns.

“As long as prominent media headlines call out fake news and offensive content, pressure will continue to mount on content publishers and platforms to address brand safety concerns – and provide effective solutions,” the report warned.

According to the survey findings, advertisers have taken it upon themselves to come up with a range of solutions, with just 3% reporting that they have no action plans.

On top of the 45% who are shifting spend to premium sites to stay safe, half (50%) are putting pressure on their partners to screen for brand safety, while 47% are implementing third-party technologies.

And when it comes to programmatic buying, 44% of these US marketers are using blacklists with their programmatic partners while another 40% are using whitelists.

Sourced from Oath, Advertiser Perceptions; additional content by WARC staff