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Brand Safety With Google Advertising

Topic exclusions and negative keywords are designed to ensure the preservation of brand integrity in online marketing. This is because brand safety is becoming increasingly important and presents advertisers with numerous challenges.

Maintaining brand integrity in online marketing is critical, and companies face numerous brand safety challenges. For example, control over ad space and the ad environment, fraud, and brand misuse. In addition, technological developments require continuous adjustments to brand safety measures. In this context, it is important that companies actively address these challenges and take appropriate measures to protect brand assets.


Brand safety refers to the delivery of ads in a legal and brand-compliant environment - the goal: is to prevent image-endangering and/or infringing ad placements. Ads should only be shown on websites and other platforms that fit the brand. Placing ads on inappropriate or problematic websites can damage the brand image and weaken customers' trust in the company. Therefore, websites and platforms that have to do with the following content are usually to be avoided: Violence, hate speech, pornography, etc.


Google Ads has developed several tools and guidelines to help advertisers place their ads on safe websites and ensure overall Brand Safety. Here are the most important ones at a glance:


Inventory types are used to prevent display ads or YouTube Ads from being delivered in conjunction with content that may not be appropriate for the product or brand. Here you can choose between standard inventory, extended inventory & limited inventory. Depending on the inventory type, more or less content is included or excluded. Under the Tools & Settings > Content Suitability tab, the different inventory types can be compared.


As part of Google Ads' topic targeting, there are a number of categories that many brands want to avoid. These include topics on news, politics, medical content, horror, etc. These exclusions can be made in addition to the existing categories for sensitive content and inventory types.


One step more granular than topic exclusions are negative keywords (keyword exclusions) - such keywords can be defined at the campaign or ad group level. They prevent ads from appearing next to videos of the corresponding keywords, for example. In the context of search ads, negative keywords ensure that advertisers are not aired with their ads for certain terms. If a person searches Google for "free software" but a company only offers paid software, you could set the word "free" to negative. Ads would not be served for those searches from that point on.


YouTube videos and web pages on the Google Display Network are assigned one of the following ratings based on their suitability for different audiences: DL-G, DL-PG, DL-T, DL-MA, or content not yet rated:

DL-G is content that is suitable for all target groups, alternatively, you can restrict it here too, suitable for families.

DL-PG is content that is suitable for most target groups, but the presence of an adult is recommended.

DL-T includes content that is more suitable for teenagers & older target groups.

DL-MA is suitable for adults only.

Unclassified content does not yet have a label, as the classification process has not yet been completed here.

Digital content labels can be used to prevent ads from being delivered in content categories that are not suitable for a particular video age group. This involves analyzing websites, pages, videos, and apps in the Display Network and on YouTube using Google's classification technology and assigning them a label. Various signals (texts, images, audiovisual content, etc.) are taken into account. In this way, Google can ensure that ads are not delivered with content that does not match the company. The exclusion option can be made in the campaign settings.


Specific pages, YouTube channels, or videos that should be excluded from the beginning can be excluded by means of the placement definition. Here, any specific URL can be blocked. This prevents the ads from being played on that page or video.


In summary, Brand Safety is an important factor when placing ads on online platforms to protect brand image and build customer trust. Google Ads has developed several ways to assist in ensuring Brand Safety. This is through the choice of inventory types, the use of labels to be excluded for content, topic exclusions, negative keywords as well as placement exclusions. These tools and guidelines can ensure that ads only appear on safe and relevant websites and that the brand image is strengthened and not weakened.

Read the German version here

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