In an industry under extreme scrutiny, some of the biggest players are now coming under pressure for not signing up to initiatives to ensure digital good practice, as the JICWEBS/DTSG accreditation, hailed the ‘MOT ‘of the digital advertising world. The IPA recently released a letter it had sent to Google and Facebook to urge them to get on board, as whilst Google’s Double Click has signed up to DTSG principles, YouTube and Facebook haven’t yet.

With the focus on major, primarily B2C players, these principles are just as relevant for B2B practitioners. Here are three reasons why it’s time for digital B2B Marketers to sit up and take note.

1. This is not just about brand safety - this is about good advertising

The key principles of the cross-industry DTSG initiative are three-fold. Firstly, to significantly reduce the risk of ad misplacement. Secondly, to uphold brand safety and Thirdly to protect the integrity of digital advertising.

Whilst many of the DTSG signatories are rooted in programmatic, this will change quickly as the issues addressed are to do with trust in the digital advertising ecosystem rather than simply the automated way of trading digital advertising. A recent JICWEBS Town Hall event clearly set out that this should be the ‘MOT’ of the digital advertising world which will see publishers and agencies also covered.

It doesn’t matter whether a digital ad was placed with a direct Publisher buy, via a sales house or via programmatic channels – all brands want to see their ads placed in environments they are comfortable with. That means every single impression.

Transparent access into how a partner achieves this is a minimum standard. But currently, there are nowhere near enough B2B specific companies on the list.

2. A comprehensive strategy by a partner is essential

Being accredited is important. But it’s digging beneath that to understand which each partner has demonstrated to achieve that accreditation that’s important.

Is a whitelist being applied? If so, how has this been put together: is it something manual? If so, who are the people vetting the sites and deciding if they are relevant and appropriate?

Is it completely transparent? Most companies who operate in a strict whitelist environment should be happy to share the whole list – not a snapshot, not a representative list but the entire list.

3. More specifically, this matters more for B2B marketers who have very valuable audiences

B2B audience targeting capabilities are powerful and allow brands to eliminate a lot of wastage if chosen correctly. Whilst extensive reach is possible - is it always being done the right way?

The examples at the Town Hall event mentioned how a fizzy drinks brand may be more flexible – there are few issues with a brand such as that appearing to comment about a celebrity and his or her love life. However, a B2B brand marketer will always feel more protective over placement.

Understanding that their brand, which for so long has only appeared against known and named magazines, trade shows and websites, may appear on a broader list of sites is one thing. Asking them to embrace celebrity love life content as a relevant place for it is something very different!

A poor environment can change perceptions of a brand and this potential future customer is worth investing time and effort into by ensuring that their experience is the best it possibly can be. This should be based on the value of that potential customer and the nature of the relationship.

Digital trust is a vital issue in B2B marketing. There are plenty of opportunities to serve cheap ads (especially programmatically), whereas there will always be a cost associated with premium content.

However, premium content will always be perceived as more valuable to the audience that reads it; alignment to that content makes sense for most B2B brands. The expense won’t necessarily be a bad thing. As long as a marketer knows exactly what they are buying, up-front, and also knows their partner is prepared to be scrutinised.


By Doug Green, director at Encore Digital Media

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

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