4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau Delivers Brand Suitability Framework and Brand Safety Floor In Move to Help Advertisers Assess Risk

Brand Safety Floor Included in Media Rating Council’s Newly Released Supplemental Guidance on Content Level Context and Brand Safety Ad Verification

New York, NY (September 20, 2018) – The 4A’s, the leading trade organization for marketing communications agencies, today released two critical resources developed to strengthen current contextual brand safety practices. The two documents – a Brand Safety Floor and a Brand Suitability Framework – are designed to help agencies, advertisers, publishers, platforms, and ad verification vendors develop brand by brand digital buying guidelines that appropriately align advertiser ads with specific categories of content.

The combined frameworks are the product of the Advertising Protection Bureau (APB), which was launched on April 10 during the 4A’s Accelerate conference. The APB is comprised of Brand Safety Leaders from eight major network agency companies including Dentsu Aegis Network, GroupM, Havas Media, Horizon Media, IPG Mediabrands, MDC Partners, Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Media.

“Brand Safety is a topic that affects all advertisers, and these executives are passionate about preserving the integrity of their brands and of the industry at large,” said Louis Jones, EVP of Media & Data, 4A’s.

After releasing a first iteration of the combined frameworks in July, the APB worked with publishers, platforms, and verification vendors to refine definitions and incorporate industry feedback.

The Brand Safety Floor identifies 13 content categories that pose risk to advertisers, whereby advertisers might choose to adopt a “never appropriate” position for their ad buys. The Floor is incorporated by reference into the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) final version of its Supplemental Guidance on Content Level Context and Brand Safety Ad Verification, also released today.

“The foundation of Brand Safety must be built on a concrete, universal understanding of content that is never appropriate under any circumstances,” said Joe Barone, Managing Partner of Brand Safety for the Americas at GroupM. “We encourage adoption of this 4A’s recommendation for platform and publisher advertiser friendly guidelines across the industry.”

The final MRC supplement was developed in collaboration with the 4A’s, ANA, and IAB to modernize the 2012 IAB Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification.

The Brand Suitability Framework details different classes of content within each of the 13 categories and assigns risk levels that advertisers can use to determine their own suitability for content, understanding that not all advertisers will have the same view of the risks posed to their brand.

“We believe that we have a collective responsibility to safeguard both brands and consumers from environments that could pose risk,” continues Jones. “By working with our agency, publisher, platform, and verification vendor partners, and the MRC to create the Brand Safety Floor and Brand Suitability Framework, we are moving brand safety discussions to a more granular content level, where possible, versus current practices based on domain, site and URL. At the same time, the content classifications will streamline the conversations between all parties regarding what placements are appropriate by brand.”

“The APB has been instrumental in taking steps to create a common understanding around the issue, and in providing the necessary framework to cultivate a safe space for industry-wide collaboration. This is an important step that should serve as a building block for more consistent parameters and policies across all partners,” said Yale E. Cohen, EVP of Digital Investment & Standards at PMX.


About the 4A’s
Founded in 1917, the 4A’s was established to promote, advance and defend the interests of our member agencies, their employees and the industry at large. The organization serves 700+ member agencies across 1,300 offices, which control more than 85% of total U.S. advertising spend. As the leading trade organization for marketing communication agencies, the 4A’s purpose is to help empower its members to deliver insightful creativity that drives commerce and influences culture, all while moving the industry forward. The organization provides community, leadership, advocacy, guidance and best-in-class training that help enable agencies to innovate, evolve and grow. The 4A’s Benefits division insures more than 160,000 employees, and its D.C. office advocates for policies that best support a thriving advertising industry. The 4A’s Foundation fuels a robust diversity pipeline of talent for its members and the marketing and media industry, fostering the next generation of leaders. The organization is dedicated to, and vested in, our members’ success just as they are dedicated to helping brands create, distribute, and measure effective and insightful advertising and marketing. Visit the 4A’s at www.4as.org.

MaryLiz Ghanem
DiGennaro Communications
Tel. 917-518-8422
[email protected]


Download APB Brand Suitability Framework

Download APB Brand Safety Floor Framework

Download MRC Ad Verification Supplement- Enhanced Content Level Context and Brand Safety