Tackling Brand Safety & Net Neutrality

Fine Point Grey James Haagenson, Programmatic Campaign Manager Matt Mason, Client Manager

Tackling Brand Safety & Net Neutrality

(42-minute podcast)

 As an advertiser, is your brand safe? Listen in as we bring good humor and healthy debate to some of the toughest issues facing digital marketers today. Our experts share practical ways you can keep your brand safe in an increasingly decentralized and politicized market. And, just to up the ante, we also dive straight into a passionate debate that kicks off an ongoing conversation around net neutrality. Listen in, and join the debate!


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Featured Experts:

James Haagenson, Programmatic Campaign Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Matt Mason, Client Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts


James Haagenson, Programmatic Campaign Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: James Haagenson is a customer-service focused, strategic brand consultant who is focused on the innovative world of programmatic advertising. James started out serving the Seattle software giant in the Microsoft Retail Stores and now he is an Associate Ad Ops Manager on the Programmatic Advertising and Display Team at Point It Digital Marketing.  In his current role, he helps clients get maximum business results by offering digital advertising strategies and executing on them. James has a degree in Music Technology and Composition from Seattle Pacific University and enjoys playing in his band, the Castle Dwellers.

Matt Mason, Client Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Matt Mason is a lifelong learner and digital marketing enthusiast.  Matt’s favorite thing about marketing is getting outstanding results for his client and keeping up with the fast-moving current of technology and technique. He is currently a Client Manager at Point It, a digital marketing agency in Seattle.  Matt is focusing on building a deep knowledge about all thing digital and brings a fresh perspective to paid search.  Born and raised in the 636 (Saint Louis), Matt is a lover of good food and music. In his free time, you can find him banging on the drums or crushing rock walls around Seattle.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Tim Mohler, Sr. Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Tim Mohler is a multichannel marketer with experience building campaigns for travel, CPG, food, beverage, and technology companies reaching both B2B and B2C customers. He’s passionate about building marketing experiences & partnerships that are relevant to a brand’s message, exciting for the customer, and most importantly deliver measurable results. At Point It, he develops digital, social and content campaigns as well as managing PointIt.com on a day to day basis.


Maureen Jann: Hi there and welcome to Fine Point Digital Marketing Updates, a weekly podcast of latest happenings and interviews with expert guests for across the spectrum of digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the Director of Marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency here in Seattle, Washington and I’ll be your hostess. I’m joined in the Point It studios aka the conference by podcast engineer and Senior Marketing Manager Tim Mohler who will be joining in throughout the podcast.


Quick announcement before we introduce our guests today, we’re having a tweet chat on Friday at 4:28 at noon Pacific. We’re highlighting our very own Sean Van Guilder, Director of SEO, talking about voice search and content marketing. The hashtag is MarketingNW and we do those every month on the last Friday of the month. You can sign up for notifications and invitations and get additional information on www.PointIt.com/tweetchat. That link will be in the show notes, it’ll be easy to access, and let’s get on with the show.


We’re changing the format a little today, we’re going to talk about net neutrality and then we’re going to talk about brand safety with our very own James Haagenson and Matt Mason across the different digital marketing channels. So how are you guys this morning?


Matt Mason: Doing great, really happy to be here.


James Haagenson: Excited to be here. Be back, it’s been a couple weeks. [inaudible 01:15]


Maureen Jann: It has been a couple of weeks, and this is Matt’s first time.


Matt Mason: This is my first time.


James Haagenson: We’re pretty proud of him.


Maureen Jann: Aw, that’s nice. Fantastic. Well let’s dig in to net neutrality because it needs to be done. I’m introducing a new section each week on the podcast to help us all stay informed with something that’s pretty major, looming, and needs to be addressed. Much like dental work, we want to all pretend like net neutrality, like the net neutrality rollback isn’t happening. That’s probably why we need to know even more.


So I’m going to start doing weekly update about net neutrality and the progression of the different bills in the government to help us stay up to date. The impetus for this particular section is I was talking to Rand Fishkin because he’s going to be on the show next week and he got very enthusiastic about net neutrality and started talking about things that I really had no idea about and it really forced me to reconcile the fact that I need to be more educated and I’ve decided to drag you all with me.


Going forward, we’ll have an article on the changes in net neutrality legislation and then we’ll move on to other things, but today we’re going to focus on a primer. A primer on net neutrality and the historical emotions that have happened and the legislation that has passed and what does it really mean and then next week with Rand, we’ll talk more about the actual impact on digital marketing industry.


Just a quick recap of what net neutrality is, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking products or websites. This is the Wikipedia definition and I know that 50% of the people out there are going to roll their eyes because I used a Wikipedia definition but I thought it was close enough to give us all a good enough idea about what it is, what it means and how it could potentially impact us as marketers.


James Haagenson: You’re not favoring a dictionary.


Maureen Jann: You’re not favoring a dictionary?


Matt Mason: And I stand with Wikipedia, so I think you’re good.


Maureen Jann: Oh, you stand with them, like if you had a flag, you’d wave it right now.



Matt Mason:


A Wikipedia flag, absolutely.


Maureen Jann: Okay.


Matt Mason: They bailed me out a lot in college.


James Haagenson: Oh geez.


Maureen Jann: Not an A student?


James Haagenson: Wow.


Matt Mason: No, I was an A student.


Maureen Jann: Oh, excellent, good to know. See everyone, validation.


Matt Mason: Validation.


Maureen Jann: So since the current administration is rolling back protections that were put in place to have all websites treated equally, we as marketers need to ensure that we’re aware of what’s going on and how that will impact our world. So we’ll use this time to get everyone up to speed and discuss the progress week over week. Which I said before, but it’s worth saying again. So the short history is that in 1999 when internet providers started using cable networks to provide faster service rather than the telephone lines, the government debate began whether or not the cable networks should be treated as a public utility like the telephone lines.


Does anybody remember this ’cause I didn’t know anything about this. I’m sure you did because you were PoliSci major, Tim.


Tim Mohler: Yeah, this has just been an ongoing issue with the telco’s they want to charge both sides of the equation as much as they can everywhere that they can so this is potentially another way for them to do that. Charging carrier fees for Google or whoever to do serve content, especially with video content, that’s always been huge, anything that’s high consuming. They want to charge you for service and then charge whoever wants to provide you service for being allowed to serve you. With Comcast somewhere north of a hundred bucks for internet these days, I’m not sure that I agree with the double dipping but there are arguments on both sides of course.


Maureen Jann: Understood, and based on that the cable companies are concerned because they won’t be able to do that anymore because being governed as such would impact their investment. They put the infrastructure in place, they put the investment in place, and to treat it like a public service would limit their use of it is their perspective which is interesting and valid to a degree. Ooh, Tim’s making faces over here, so go Tim, go.


Tim Mohler: Those lines and wires are heavily, heavily subsidized when we’re talking about the auctioned airwaves that your wireless provider runs on, remember that those are also actually public. There’s the fact that you can only lay so many wires in the ground and that there’s a huge governmental cost to that and in many locations around the country, this doesn’t affect you so much if you have three or four choices of internet provider, but if you’re in a small town and you only have one choice, it has massive impacts and even certain areas in Seattle where you have really one choice, it has a big impact on you. This all rolls into the same ball of wax with there’s this issue, there’s the issue of privacy in terms of whether or not your internet provider is allowed to sell your data, there’s just a whole bunch of things here and the consumer doesn’t really have a lot of choice, so that is kind of the political under laying brainwork that we’re having to work with.


James Haagenson: Yeah, I mean Tim’s totally right, being from a small town in the Midwest, we have issues with this because there really only was one major internet provider and they had a monopoly on the market so they could charge whatever they wanted and even when a competitor did come in, they didn’t have the same infrastructure that the major company had so I would pay half as much, but I would only be able to get a fourth of the speed and as a college student, with sharing a house with four or five other guys who also need internet, if you got five people all connecting from their devices, it causes a huge problem.


Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Tim Mohler: But even in Seattle it’s not like we have a ton of choices. I mean you can choose CenturyLink or you can choose Comcast or-


Matt Mason: Or CenturyLink or Comcast.


Tim Mohler: Frontier, I’m going to give Frontier love, their customer service has been excellent.


James Haagenson: I can’t get Frontier. I can’t get Frontier.


Matt Mason: You can’t get them everywhere.


Tim Mohler: And cheap.


Matt Mason: But you can’t get them everywhere. And that’s the problem, right?


Maureen Jann: Well let’s talk about living on a peninsula. How that impacts your cable choices.


James Haagenson: You can get Wave, can’t you?


Maureen Jann: You can get Wave, that is true, but we are cord cutters because Comcast made us so unbelievably angry we could not. But of course we still have to get their internet. So we gave up the cable but we still have to use their tainted internet services.


Matt Mason: But see that’s a great point though.


James Haagenson: That’s the funny thing about cord cutters, is that they still have to have internet.


Maureen Jann: Cruel world.


Matt Mason: But also, that’s a really good point because we’re talking about four different people all sitting in the same room in one city who don’t all have the same options for internet and moreover, they’re different options unfortunately. But I’m sure there’s the one company that’s available to us all and they have the highest prices.


Maureen Jann: And they’re the worst customer service.


Matt Mason: Well that, that is-


Tim Mohler: So speaking of the peninsula, if you’re down to one carrier, think about what this means if your cable company owns your carrier and they don’t like the fact that you’re using Hulu and Netflix to cable cut, it means that now they’re going to charge Netflix or whoever that carrier is twenty, thirty bucks a month for service to you, so you know-


Maureen Jann: Which will increase our prices which-


Tim Mohler: Exactly. So that’s why once you’re down to really effectively a monopoly, it becomes a situation where there’s no customer service, where there’s no … they don’t care, they’re trying to ratchet things up as much as possible. That’s why I really do feel like in those communities where you have a single provider under a contract like Seattle with Comcast, it is effectively a forced choice so it is a utility and it needs to be dealt with as a utility.


Maureen Jann: Treated that way.


James Haagenson: Yeah. Totally. If I had the choice I would probably turn my Wifi on before my water when I move into a new house.


Maureen Jann: Hundred percent, yes.


James Haagenson: Because you can always buy bottles of water, you can’t buy bottles of Wifi.


Maureen Jann: It’s an environmental disaster.


James Haagenson: I just can’t sit at home without Wifi, what would I do?


Matt Mason: There’s beer to drink at home but not Wifi.


Tim Mohler: I assume you needed YouTube to figure out how to turn the water on.


Matt Mason: We often go to YouTube to learn how to do most things.


Maureen Jann: One thing that you said earlier Tim-


Matt Mason: But not to advertise, right?


Maureen Jann: Word.


Matt Mason: High five.


Maureen Jann: There was some high fiving happening in the conference room, that was good times. So something that Tim said that I hadn’t thought about before was the subsidies for the ground that the wires go in and the wiring itself and how that is in and of itself subsidized by government cash, essentially taxpayer money is a beautiful point if I could curse on this I would because that was curse-worthy information and I was like aagh, that’s such a good point.


Tim Mohler: It depends on your community and it depends on how the contracts are set up and whatnot to be fair but.


James Haagenson: Well but see that’s why it’s a game changer right with Google laying down Google fiber. Now that I’m sure that there’s some type of subsidies for that-


Maureen Jann: Oh, 100%.


James Haagenson: But they also are funding most of it. I could be wrong on this and please correct me if I am, but I believe that they’re funding most of that project on their own because it benefits them directly.


Tim Mohler: Yeah, so there’s a big question when it comes to … I’m going to quote and I’m going to mess his name up, but the FCC chair Ajit Pai, what he referred to this as was a way to make faster cheaper internet available. I don’t think that that’s probably the whole story, however, as you look at the Google situation, you have somebody who’s essentially providing a service for free, so that really changes the equation, suddenly you’re not paying for it. Then you start to wonder who does pay for that. Is that being paid for advertising, is that being paid off the back of your privacy, is that being paid for simply because Google owns so much of the internet and then what happens when they don’t, because the internet changes very, very quickly, or are they going to charge other providers. How does that look on Google served content versus AWS or Amazon or whoever else.


Maureen Jann: Well I think that the point here is going to be crossing our fingers that Google’s concept of do no harm is real-


Tim Mohler: I thought they had moved back from that somewhat though? Or at least stopped saying it so often.


Matt Mason: You just broke Maureen’s heart a little bit by saying that.


Maureen Jann: I died a little bit inside.


Matt Mason: The Google is dead to Maureen now.


Maureen Jann: No, that’s not true. We can’t have that. Think about where we work, that would be bad.


Tim Mohler: I mean ad revenue doesn’t last forever. So when you go through ad revenue dips and suddenly they have to support real infrastructure and they have real hard costs, not just the servers, it becomes … you know this is something that the telco’s and the cable companies have dealt with for a long time. Somebody has to maintain those wires in the ground and that is a very, very expensive proposition, so this is, it really is a complicated issue.


Maureen Jann: Agreed. And so in 1999 is when it started, when we started having these conversations thanks to AOL. The administration pushed for this because it meant that the internet would be more widely and equally available. So there have been multiple different smaller movements on this particular set of legislation over the last 15 years, but the last big one that I read about that I thought was worth mentioning on this particular podcast was in 2015 they reclassified broadband as a telecommunications service and ruled that all traffic would be created equal. Today, the current incarnation of the FCC is looking to reclassify cable and the cable infrastructure as not a common carrier under consideration is replacing the FCC rules with a voluntary commitment from ISPs not to block or slow internet traffic to customers. Tim’s starting to laugh and I’m not going to lie to you, I was laughing-


Tim Mohler: Do no evil. Do no evil.


Maureen Jann: Yeah I’d be like you gotta promise, don’t be bad.


Matt Mason: Don’t do it.


Tim Mohler: Okay AT&T, you can’t throttle Netflix’s streaming capability, all right, you can’t do it.


Maureen Jann: Don’t be bad.


Tim Mohler: Please promise.


Maureen Jann: Yup.


Tim Mohler: Pinky swear.


Maureen Jann: Wow I mean how do you enforce a voluntary commitment?


Matt Mason: And you don’t. And ultimately the people that are going to suffer are the consumers, right? This is ultimately really these rules are only to the benefit of the large telco’s and they hurt consumers. I think that if we’re talking about this being America, you should have the right to be a cable cutter. And you just should, that’s the whole idea behind the free market is that the consumer should have all the power. But unfortunately with these proposed rules, the consumer doesn’t have the power.


Maureen Jann: So when you say cable cutter, tell me more. What does that mean?


Matt Mason: What I specifically mean is like so I for the longest time was a cable cutter-


Maureen Jann: Are you a cord cutter or a cable cutter, ’cause that’s different.


Matt Mason: Mmm. Cable.


Tim Mohler: What’s the difference?


Maureen Jann: Cable would be like the service, right? Because I have cable internet.


James Haagenson: Yeah. What’s a cord cutter?


Maureen Jann: A cord cutter is not buying the television service that goes with the cable.


Matt Mason: Okay, so that’s fine, we’ve established the definitions that we’re working with here, so I can work with that.


Tim Mohler: I don’t know what the difference is still.


Matt Mason: What she’s saying is-


Maureen Jann: Internet service versus TV service and internet service.


Matt Mason: Cable service would be I don’t have internet or cable. Cord cutting would be I don’t have cable-


Maureen Jann: TV service.


Tim Mohler: Got it.


Matt Mason: So I can operate with those definitions. So I, in that respect was a cord cutter for the longest time because ultimately when I got out of college, I just couldn’t afford it because who’s got $150 bucks a month their first year out of college. Nobody. Right? And then the only reason why I came back to it was because I’ve tried the Sling TV’s and I’ve tried the paid apps and all that kind of stuff. The only thing I actually like cable for is live sports.


Maureen Jann: Sports.


Matt Mason: And cable has a monopoly on live sports. You can get Sling TV and they say that they have live sports channels, they don’t. I mean they just don’t. I mean they kind of do but they don’t have the readily available live sports that the ESPNs of the world and the other big time sports networks are covering and so for me that’s what ultimately brought me back, but then I can … now we have things like MLBTV right, so I can watch any MLB game but then there are other companies like the NFL who have exclusively sold the rights to the cable companies and there aren’t other streaming options.


James Haagenson: Well like Root Sports is the Northwest sports channel that has the Mariners that has the Sounders, Timbers-


Matt Mason: You’re only getting that on cable.


James Haagenson: You can’t stream it, it’s not possible. The only place to watch it is on your cable television. Even if I am a cable subscriber which a lot of times a lot of these streaming services are behind a login, like please use your Comcast login or whatever. You can’t stream Roots Sports.


Matt Mason: Can’t do it.


James Haagenson: I can’t always be at home okay?


Matt Mason: Totally but even more so than that you’ve got Fox Sports which obviously as the name suggests is a subsidiary of the Fox network. You used to be able to stream regional games on Fox Sports. Now you can’t. Now you’re basically streaming C-list sports. The sports that nobody’s watching. I’m sorry living in the Northwest and no offense to anybody who’s here, but I’m not watching NASCAR. And that’s about the only thing that I can watch on the Fox Sports app.


Maureen Jann: I can’t talk about sports for much longer. The sports ball is going to kill me slowly and I will die of asphyxiation like a bear because of sports ball.


Matt Mason: This is what we know about net neutrality though.


Maureen Jann: Which is a legitimate point and I think that we’ve all made that point and we talked about it yesterday on Adobe chat when we were talking about OTT and TBE. It was not just you guys, this is a common core issue.


Matt Mason: Well it worked because ESPN laid off 100 people yesterday because they’re bleeding revenue, so.


Maureen Jann: Change your vibe.


Tim Mohler: That makes me really wonder about the timing of this. We have never had so many cord cutting options before, there’s more money pouring into it than any other time.


Matt Mason: That’s a good point, Tim.


Tim Mohler: Most of the content providers are trying to decouple from cable as quickly as they can. Either with their own offerings or by making deals with everyone and I wonder if this isn’t a defensive maneuver because the lobbying power for the telco’s is ginormous. Wow, I just used ginormous on a podcast.


Maureen Jann: Nice work.


Tim Mohler: That’s horrible.


Maureen Jann: Carry on.


Tim Mohler: But telco’s have never been the most innovative companies and I see this as potentially stifling a lot of innovation from what they would perceive as threats, so you know-


Maureen Jann: That’s just lazy business. That’s lazy business.


Tim Mohler: I’m looking forward to calling this what it is all out for us and coming up with a finely nuanced plan-


Matt Mason: Great solution.


Maureen Jann: Here’s a thought. You have Amazon, you have Netflix, they’re producing their own content so they don’t have to have deals with the legacy networks, maybe they’re going to have alternative sports [crosstalk 00:18:42]


Matt Mason: Can we just talk about this for a second? Netflix’s content is just better right now.


Maureen Jann: It is better.


Matt Mason: It’s just better then I would much rather sit down and watch a Netflix original than go and sit through an hour long sitcom with commercials.


Maureen Jann: How screwed does that make cable right now?


Matt Mason: Really bad.


Maureen Jann: So screwed.


Matt Mason: Netflix is and even with the big show that just came out that’s causing a lot of controversy-


Maureen Jann: Which one?


Matt Mason: Thirteen Reasons Why-


Maureen Jann: Oh yeah.


Matt Mason: The big thing for Netflix is and this goes back to the advertiser in me, or the marketer in me, not all press is bad press and at the end of the day, people are talking about this Netflix original that now everybody is going to want to go watch. Even ’cause people are simply saying, “Don’t watch it”. You know that that tells me, okay, I’m going to go watch it. It’s brilliant.


Maureen Jann: Well and people with kids are having these really deep conversations, like teenage kids [crosstalk 00:19:31] real conversations about suicide and what does that mean-


Matt Mason: Totally.


Maureen Jann: They’re not restricted by advertisers and that’s the big deal they can talk about whatever they want, they can be as controversial as they want because what’s the worst that can happen? People just won’t watch that particular episode.


James Haagenson: Right, but I’m still going to watch Narcos.


Matt Mason: Right but when was the last time as a culture … and this is another thing that I think great about it is that these content companies are able to tackle tough issues and get us talking about things that we might not have otherwise talked about. When’s the last time that you saw, with no disrespect and I don’t mean this to sound insensitive, but when was the last time you saw a cable network attack the issue of teenage suicide? Probably never.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it’s happened-


Matt Mason: It’s happened-


Tim Mohler: But no one watched it.


Matt Mason: But nobody watched it and like you’re not talking about it. And sure, maybe the show went about it the wrong way and we could, that’s a whole different conversation for a different podcast-


Maureen Jann: Yes.


Matt Mason: But what it’s done is it’s now created a buzz around Netflix and so now everyone’s talking about it. And we’re talking about an irrelevant issue, so to me, that’s why I would rather give my $8.99 a month to Netflix-


Maureen Jann: 100%.


Matt Mason: Than $120 bucks a month to Comcast.


James Haagenson: You still gotta give it to get the internet.


Matt Mason: But I still gotta give it to get the internet.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Good point. Okay. Well, I feel like we did a good primer on what net neutrality was-


James Haagenson: Yeah, that was just a primer.


Matt Mason: We’re all heated.


Maureen Jann: I know. Next week is going to be off the chain.


Matt Mason: That was just a primer, can I come back?


Maureen Jann: Well we’re going to do it every week now, just to keep track of everything because it’s one of those things that impacts all of us and on multiple levels, so just something to get us started, wet our whistle on that, but the nice part is we actually have a second part to our show, we can talk about brand safety which is related and-


Matt Mason: Even more exciting-


Tim Mohler: Everyone just gave up and tuned out.


James Haagenson: Stay with us, it’s going to be a good one. Stay with us.


Maureen Jann: See now it’s your job to cheer us all up with brand safety.


Tim Mohler: Totally.


Maureen Jann: Before we get into the nitty gritties there, I’m super glad you guys could come in, I know this was kind of last minute, so we’re having a very lively and exciting conversation about being very early in the morning-


James Haagenson: I can’t believe you had us come in at 5:00 a.m., this is crazy.


Maureen Jann: East coast time?


James Haagenson: It’s like Hawaiian time.


Maureen Jann: Oh you’re right it’s not even Hawaiian time. Time zone fail.


Matt Mason: It’s 2:00 a.m. in Seattle.


Maureen Jann: So before we go too far down the rabbit hole, Matt, since this is your first time on the show, introduce yourself, tell us what you do, mini bio.


Matt Mason: Yeah, my name is Matt Mason, I’ve been with Point It for roughly 18 months now. I primarily focus on paid search within the last six to eight months have really dived in to paid social, so that’s Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn advertising. I also help out James here a little bit with program [inaudible 00:22:27] display so I wear a couple different hats at Point It and if you’re interested, my Twitter handle is MattMasonPPC if you want to keep up with me in my writings online.


Maureen Jann: And James, I know you’re old hat at this crazy podcast game, but just remind everybody who you are and why you’re important.


James Haagenson: Yeah, oh, so important.


Maureen Jann: You’re enough James, you’re enough.


James Haagenson: My name is James, I am a Program Ad Campaign Manager here at Point It. Today is my one year anniversary of working here.


Matt Mason: Congrats James.


Maureen Jann: Aww. Congratulations.


James Haagenson: Thank you, so you know it feels really different. but-


Maureen Jann: Then-


James Haagenson: Then before when it was not a year-


Tim Mohler: Then yesterday.


Matt Mason: Today feels objectively different then yesterday.


Maureen Jann: It’s like when you put on new shoes you feel faster-


James Haagenson: Yeah.


Matt Mason: He’s no longer a puppy, he’s a dog now.


James Haagenson: Yeah, full grown.


Maureen Jann: Wow. Look at that. And what do you do here?


James Haagenson: Yeah, so I work in the programmatic display team and do that. Yeah.


Maureen Jann: So you’re a programmatic campaign manager right?


James Haagenson: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Maureen Jann: You work closely with clients and blah blah blah.


James Haagenson: All that good stuff and my Twitter handle, I want to tell my Twitter handle it’s ProgrammaticJim at Programmatic Jim.


Maureen Jann: Yup, there you go.


James Haagenson: So there you go.


Maureen Jann: Well if we’re going to do this, I’m MaureenOnPoint on Twitter.


Tim Mohler: And I’m TimothyMohler.


James Haagenson: I guess I should have said that I’m a Client Manager, I realize that I left that out of my mini bio. Not very good at the elevator pitch, but you know it’s-


Maureen Jann: That’s all right, practice makes perfect. Okay.


Matt Mason: It’s two o’clock a.m. in Tokyo.


James Haagenson: Well yeah, tomorrow actually.


Maureen Jann: Shame, shame of my house. Okay so the reason why we brought you guys in is because we’re highlighting the also touchy topic of brand safety and it’s not easy so for each of these questions, I’d love for you guys to talk through the various channel perspectives that you have. So the first question is what are the big brand safety issues?


Matt Mason: So you want to be on Fox News. Yeah, you laugh, but what I mean by that is that’s the brand safety issue, right? Is that ultimately the fear as an advertiser, as a company is that your ad is going to be screen shotted or taken advantage of, it’s going to blow up on Twitter, it’s going to blow up on Facebook and the next thing you know, there’s going to be a cable network segment about X brand got caught on X website and now there’s a backlash for it. Right now that’s the one that’s relevant to all of us is there is a fear in the industry that we’re going to accidentally or purposely maybe serve an ad that’s going to catch negative news and that’s unfortunately, nobody wants to see their brand on CNN, MSNBC, Fox because a marketer was careless and served an ad somewhere they shouldn’t have.


Or even worse because you don’t want to be the butt of Twitter for 24 to 72 hours, depending on how long that firestorm runs out.


Maureen Jann: True.


Matt Mason: You do not want to be a negative hashtag.


James Haagenson: Well I mean so we can take a step back and talk about the fact that we no longer, in programmatic, we’re no longer buying ads specifically through publishers which is awesome because we’re now able to … this idea that there is so much inventory on the internet. You think about CNN on election day and how many people were refreshing the page across the entire world and every time somebody refreshes a page, that’s like eight or fifteen new ad spots that come up. There’s no way they can sell all that so they offer that programmatically and we can buy it in an auction which is great. It means that we have access to a lot of this inventory for a lot cheaper. However what it comes down to is there are new websites coming out every day in the tens of thousands of websites.


Maureen Jann: Ten thousand a day approximately, that’s what I, I was reading-


James Haagenson: That’s what I hear, that’s what people say-


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Matt Mason: Sounds good.


James Haagenson: Sounds great. So the issue comes down to the fact that you can’t negate all of those without really causing an issue with the amount of inventory you’re trying to buy. There’s been a couple of articles that have come out of people talking, saying like oh we went from the entire exchange to just 2,500 websites that we’ve weight listed, these are the ones we’re going to target. Um, if everybody did that, we would be back to square one and you would not-


Matt Mason: Right, ’cause then you’re not saving a dollar anymore.


James Haagenson: Right. And so the thing that I think is most funny about the brand safety issues is that not only are we doing this programmatic buying where we buy it in the auction, we’re also more so targeting people with data, so the biggest way that we do that is if you come to my website, I’m going to show you an ad. Because you’ve shown interest in my website, so I’m going to show you an ad. So we have clients who go to their own websites and then they’re like well I want to make sure that I’m not being served on Breitbart and then they go to Breitbart and guess what? We’re showing you an ad, I don’t care where you are, although now I do because you’re worried about Breitbart, you just showed the ad to yourself on Breitbart basically. If you didn’t go to Breitbart, it wouldn’t be there. It’s kind of like the tree falling in the woods.


Matt Mason: It’s such a great point because I think that the and we understand that, right? The general public doesn’t. That is one of the biggest issues right now and I think it was Amazon. It might have been Amazon who somebody tried to catch them in one of these traps of oh, you served me an ad on this site and because Amazon is who they are and they have the power and capability, they basically came back and said, no, no, no, you were in our remarketing pool, we didn’t serve this ad to come get you, we weren’t fishing for you, we weren’t prospecting. You went to our site, you came to our house, and then you went to this other website looking to see who was there and we followed you.


These are the conversations that I’m having with my parents who don’t understand advertising when they get all up in a dither about this and it’s like no, no, no, you need to understand that yes, there is an issue of … and we can talk about the difference between remarketing and prospecting and how we combat those two things separately, but with the remarketing, the big challenge and the brand safety issue is that because we don’t have the capability of crawling all 10,000 sites that are coming out a day, because we don’t have the capability to stop everything that’s being created, there’s always going to be a little bit of risk that somebody came and interacted with our brand, went to a site that is potentially dangerous and they got served an ad. Not because we support that business, not because we support that website or believe in what they’re doing, but because we care about that user.


People forget that we’re not targeting sites, we’re targeting users. That user meets all of our criteria and so we want to get them where they’re at and so that is the brand safety issue and when it comes in terms of remarketing or trying to bring that person back.


Maureen Jann: Okay, so that’s all good and fine. Love that idea, super good point, nice background like-


Matt Mason: It’s a fine point.


Maureen Jann: It is a fine point.


Tim Mohler: That’s great for PR to respond with. Have a plan, there’s your plan, go with it. Now for your reality check.


Maureen Jann: Definitely for a reality check. Brands don’t care. They don’t want to be associated with that. I can tell you as a generalist and a brand protector myself, I don’t care if you’re remarketing, we have programmatic campaigns running, but if we show up on Breitbart, you bet you’re going to hear from me.


Matt Mason: But let’s talk about that for a second. I think what is important in this, I think this goes into what are, I mean this is probably jumping ahead a little bit to what are some ways that we combat that. I think that you have to have the conversation as a company of who are we, who are we targeting, what do we stand for. I think you answer those questions first.


What I mean by that is to say this. Let’s say that you’re a large company, like a very large company-


Maureen Jann: Coke.


Matt Mason: Coke. Okay, let’s say Coke.


Maureen Jann: Everybody.


Matt Mason: Coke literally that is their campaign, we are for everybody, we cross gender, we cross age, we cross political affiliation, socioeconomic, everybody drinks coke. So if I’m Coke, I don’t want to offend anybody. So as a general rule of thumb, what I probably want to do is I probably want to avoid far right websites, I probably want to avoid far left websites, I probably just want to keep it-


Maureen Jann: No porn.


Matt Mason: Definitely no porn.


Maureen Jann: Just saying.


Matt Mason: Okay so let’s just operate on the assumption for the rest of this podcast that we all want to stay away from porn unless we’re a porn company.


Maureen Jann: Or that’s actually not true if you think about it. I’m not going to get into the-


James Haagenson: Certain toy companies.


Matt Mason: Toy companies.


Tim Mohler: Dirty details is that what you were about to say?


Maureen Jann: Dirty details.


Matt Mason: Okay so other than the industries that benefit from porn, let’s just say that these larger companies such as Coca-Cola don’t want to serve on porn sites. So you want to try to keep it as … going back to what we just talked about, as neutral as possible with your advertising, but what if you’re an insurance company in Oklahoma?


Maureen Jann: You have to assess the risk for your brand.


Matt Mason: That’s what I’m saying though. If I’m a small regional insurance company in Oklahoma, I likely don’t care if my advertisements wind up on Breitbart. The reason why-


Maureen Jann: [inaudible 00:32:23] doesn’t it.


Matt Mason: It does, but what I’m trying to say is if I’m a small regional company in Oklahoma, everybody in Oklahoma, not everybody that’s not a fair thing to say, but the majority of people are conservative. We specifically had a brand in the Midwest who said, “We do not want to exclude Breitbart because that’s where our people are”. That’s where they’re going.


Maureen Jann: No judgment.


Matt Mason: What I’m trying to say is you have to ask yourself who is my target customer.


James Haagenson: But I want to add in, you still need to have a plan-


Matt Mason: Oh absolutely.


James Haagenson: [crosstalk 00:33:00] and it goes national suddenly you’re in the headlines on New York Times, you’re on CNN or whatever. These are volatile times, you don’t necessarily know who’s going to troll you or where it’s going to show up so you need to have a plan.


Maureen Jann: And to that point, if you are a national umbrella brand but you have a particular branch, then you’re fighting with a national vision mission and a regional demographic or persona and then you’re struggling because I imagine that there’s some brand safety umbrella policies from that national brand so [crosstalk 00:33:34] complex.


Matt Mason: It’s definitely a nuanced issue and I think that’s ultimately what I’m trying to get at is that it matters. These are conversations that we should be having but you can’t just … there are going to be some sites that some people are going to say, “that’s offensive, I don’t want to show up there” and other companies are going to be like, “that’s where my people are”. So-


Maureen Jann: But brand safety isn’t specific. It or isn’t general, it’s specific, right? And that’s the thing it’s like I am a brand, I have a persona, I have a type of person, I can’t be seen here, here, and here.


Matt Mason: Right. I think what I’m trying to say is yeah, that it’s true, but there are blanket lists that we don’t ever want to show up here but different brands are going to interact and go to different places.


Maureen Jann: But brand safety means to be safe for my brand, right? And that’s what we’re talking about. Today.


James Haagenson: It comes back to just good marketing. You need to understand your brand. You need to really understand your customers, but you need to also, if you’re a marketer and you’ve been tasked with setting up brand safety guidelines by say your CEO, understand who your investors are. Because you could see your stock literally go through the floor because a major investor like CalPERS or someone has to pull out because suddenly you’re an embarrassment. Understand who your customer’s customers are. You really need to understand the wider stakeholder group because when you show up … and it goes both ways, you could be showing up in the New York Times over something, you could be showing up on Fox news saying that you’re not advertising somewhere, you really just have to prepare and understand these are polarized times and as marketers we just need to be prepped.


Maureen Jann: I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. I’m just saying we’re looking at this from a how do I keep my brand safe perspective, right?


Matt Mason: Yeah and I think that ultimately we’re saying the same thing, we’re just saying it differently. I think you’re totally right. I think we’re a little too 30,000 foot and so maybe we should pull it down into the-


James Haagenson: I’m going to pull it down.


Maureen Jann: Okay do it, go.


James Haagenson: I’m coming down with my parachute.


Matt Mason: Save us, Jim.


James Haagenson: Here’s what we do. Here’s what we do at point [inaudible 00:35:46] We partner with a company called Integral Ad Science. Their only mission is to create brand safety for brands. So what we’re able to do in these auctions that we’re entering to buy these ads is or buy this ad space is Integral Ad Science does the hard, heavy lifting work of crawling the internet to find out and categorize sites. So I’m able to go in and say I don’t want to target sites that have hate speech, porn, I don’t want to target crises, any sort of news with a crisis or something-


Matt Mason: Which is a big brand safety issue.


James Haagenson: Yeah. So there’s a whole list of things that I say. I don’t want to target these things and what Integral Ad Science does is it comes in before I bid when this call comes out and says “do you want to bid on this site?” It says, “you don’t want to bid on that site, stop”!


Maureen Jann: It’s bad. Sad faces.


Matt Mason: It is bad, sad faces is exactly what happens at the auction.


James Haagenson: And it stops.


Maureen Jann: And then there’s a cat picture.


Matt Mason: Yeah, exactly.


James Haagenson: The other quick thing too is we can also-


Matt Mason: [inaudible 00:36:57] that’s really a bad thing.


James Haagenson: The other thing that we can do also is do a post bid filter where it checks again.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, but that’s a bummer, right?


James Haagenson: It is a bummer, but you would rather pay the hundredth of a penny and not serve on that site than to lose all of your investors.


Matt Mason: Yeah, totally.


Maureen Jann: Good point.


James Haagenson: So and a lot of times Integral Ad Science if you have a pre-bid and post-bid they will refund you. Depends.


Maureen Jann: Right.


James Haagenson: Or some of these other ones. Other brand safety companies. The other things that we do is we do our own checks, so we’ll pull a site list on where we’re serving and we’ll look through and say we don’t want to serve on these websites if we have and we also are always growing a blacklist as well as all of our ad buying platforms will also provide their own blacklist. That they are also always updating. So it’s probably a lot of redundancy but that’s-


Maureen Jann: Redundancy equals [crosstalk 00:37:52]


Matt Mason: I think that’s such a good point and I think what James is essentially eluding to and what we ultimately have to do as Point It, but then also we as digital advertisers, people listening to this is you make a decision, either we’re going to pay somebody else to help us with his because it is a problem and we’re going to have somebody else who’s sole job, some vendor is to crawl sites, scrape sites, make sure that we’re blocking out sites. Or we work with some clients who have internal teams who their team is solely consists of five, six, seven people whose full time job is to be curating websites. So I think at the end of the day what it comes down to is everybody has to have a solution in place, because if you don’t, this will happen to you and you’ll be a Twitter hashtag essentially overnight if you’re not doing it.


Maureen Jann: I think that’s like the morale of the story, don’t be a Twitter hashtag.


Matt Mason: Yeah, don’t be a Twitter hashtag. I mean I don’t think that we can … so one of the questions on here is that we have seen examples of this manifest with clients and we have, right? We had a client who, kind of what we talked about earlier, somebody was in the remarketing pool and they went to I believe it was AnnCoulter.com and they got served an app. And then the client didn’t even know, all of a sudden there was this conversation going on on Twitter about the client about something that had happened and they didn’t know-


James Haagenson: Pay attention-


Matt Mason: That happens, right? And then we have to respond to that. And I think what the other important thing here is though, we can’t go the way of automation completely when it comes to this. I think another good thing that James brought up was that we do have to do our own checks. We have to be looking at these sites because not every site is corral-able by a bot to be able to say no, no, it’s bad. As Maureen said, it is bad, sad face. We can’t always determine that. We can’t just trust the bots yet and we can just trust the companies yet to go through all these sites. We have to have a little bit of onus on us to also be looking through sites and doing our own checks.


It’s very manual, taking the URL, seeing what comes up. Okay, this is bad, throw that out. We have to own that.


Maureen Jann: Yup. And I think that’s the point is we’re protecting clients, we want to help other people protect themselves and the bottom line is that it’s not 100% automated yet, there’s still a lot of manual work so just be aware. Be alive. Don’t sit by and hope that it’s all going to work out for the best or else you become a Twitter hashtag.


Matt Mason: I know one thing we do on the paid search side is we have a list of sites and we send it out to our clients proactively and say “hey look, here’s a new list of sites that we’re going to go ahead and block, these are the reasons why we’re going to block them, either it’s fake or it’s click baiting or it’s far right or left, these are all the reasons, if you have an issue with this block list, let us know”.


Tim Mohler: That’s a great way to get ahead of it so that if you as a marketer it’s better to show we’ve been doing something we might have missed this one, but we are on top of it and we can explain our reasons as well as explain how we advertise simply for the general public. To me that’s a great way to get ahead.


Maureen Jann: And that’s agency or in house really.


James Haagenson: And we get brand sign off.


Maureen Jann: Yup, good point. I have to cut us off because we could go on forever clearly and we have some other stuff going on today so anyway, thank you guys, this was a really lively conversation-


James Haagenson: Thanks for having us.


Maureen Jann: For two really heavy topics, I feel like we kept it moving and it was interesting so I’m excited about that. So I’m sure we’ll have you back soon but for now, for you out there in podcast land, thanks for joining us. If you have any questions about brand safety, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@pointit.com. It’s always a delight to hear from you and have you along on these podcasts as well. Any links we mentioned today will be in the show notes for your convenience and if you like the show and you want to make sure it sticks around, please make sure to rate us on your favorite podcast platform.


Follow Point It, Point underscore It on Twitter. To get the latest podcasts, content, live events, and more. So we’re going to sign off, it was great having everybody, thanks for being here.


Matt Mason: Yeah, thanks for having us.


James Haagenson: Thank you.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, absolutely. Have a great day and for now, stay on point.



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