The report, based on the analysis of billions of data events worldwide, provides transparency into the performance and quality of UK digital media and advertising placements in the second half of 2021, alongside worldwide comparisons.
IAS said the report highlights a significant decrease in brand risk primarily across video ad campaigns, due to the increased adoption of contextual solutions, and also signifies industry confidence around pandemic recovery efforts.
UK leads global brand risk league table in video
The UK has set down a marker as the global leader in brand safety for ads served across mobile video environments last year, the research revealed.
In mobile web video environments, brand risk improved by -6.9 percentage points between H2 2020 and H2 2021, putting the UK in pole position globally for H2 2021 at 1.1%.
The strong performance in video translated into desktop with another impressive improvement from H2 2020 for the UK.
Brand risk on desktop video sat at only 0.8% in H2 2021, which represented a -5.9 percentage points improvement on H2 2020 and puts the UK second after Canada.
Brand risk in display environments also declined sharply year-over-year (YoY) and averaged less than 2% across all environments.
The reduction of risk in these environments is likely attributable to the more widespread adoption of contextual solutions as a strong alternative to cookies – which can analyse surrounding page context and determine semantics and sentiment at scale.
Data clearly shows that as uptake of contextual solutions increases, brand risk drops dramatically and keyword blocking becomes obsolete.
It also indicates towards the continuous use of pre-bid brand safety techniques, which allows advertisers to remove unsafe content before it enters the bid stream.
Violence-related content brand risk
The report revealed changes in brand risk share between seven category types – specifically, impressions landing on pages related to adult, alcohol, illegal downloads, illegal drugs, hate speech (i.e., racism), offensive language (i.e. profanity and misinformation) or violence (i.e. war, terrorism and crime).
Data showed the proportion of brand risk in the UK last year dropped slightly across the alcohol, illegal downloads, illegal drugs and offensive language categories.
From these, the proportion of flagged impressions related to illegal downloads and offensive language (including misinformation) remained significantly low, each representing less than 3% of unsafe impressions.
This signals that industry-wide efforts and greater education to reduce the prevalence of offensive language and fake news are proving successful.
On the other hand, although the UK registered lower levels of brand risk last year, the proportion of content related to adult and violence categories generally increased.
Specifically, impressions landing on pages related to violence (including war, terrorism and crime), reflected the highest proportion of risky impressions on most environments.
Violence and adult-related content combined represented on average more than 40% of flagged impressions across environments.
Viewability up across all formats and environments
The UK saw an increase in viewability across all environments, particularly in mobile display and video.
Mobile web video viewability shot up by +9.7 percentage points from H2 2020 to reach 78.1% in H2 2021 and mobile app display saw improvements of +7.2 points to reach 80.1%.
Competition for attention remains high
With the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies, brands are turning to solutions that can help drive consumer attention and deliver more efficient outcomes.
However, the UK represented low time-in-view levels of display ads – the average time that ads remained in view on a consumer’s screen – compared to the rest of the world.
Desktop display ads in particular languished in the global league table, with time-in-view at 19.62 seconds in H2 2021, third-lowest globally.
Desktop video ads similarly suffered, with the joint second lowest ad completion rates globally (alongside the US) – an average of 80.2%, down from 92.4% for the beginning of ads.
This drop off shows that, while UK ads are highly viewable, they are not engaging consumers for a long period of time.
This gives advertisers the opportunity to place more engaging creatives in high quality environments to maximise consumer attention.
Csaba Szabo, Managing Director, EMEA, Integral Ad Science, commented: “The impressive performance of brand risk and viewability across video in the report will be especially reassuring for marketers looking at these channels to capitalise on the consumer shift towards digital video.
“The significant decline in video brand risk highlights that contextual tools are delivering measurable results and will fuel further confidence in video ad inventory.
“Yet, it’s important we see the report’s findings in the context of the present, and the early months of 2022 serve as a reminder that the industry should continue to evaluate and optimise campaigns.
“Brand risk is ever-present and in this context, it’s even more important that advertisers carefully consider what is and what isn’t suitable for their brands, and adapt their plans accordingly.”
Integral Ad Science’s Media Quality Report – 16th Edition highlights brand safety, ad fraud, and viewability trends across display, video, mobile web, and in-app advertising.
It analysed billions of global data impressions from ad campaigns that ran between 1st July to 31st December, 2021.