The challenge of enforcing quality and brand safety standards within media buys has become a central focus for marketers in recent years, and it’s often a brand’s agency and media partners that are on the frontlines of this battle. For this reason, brands need to ensure that their partners are being incentivized to support their internal standards, while still achieving scale and strong ROI

The most successful campaigns happen when brands and their partners are aligned, not only on goals, but also on the path to achieving them. Here, we'll take a look at how marketers can craft partner agreements that ensure this alignment, particularly when it comes to strong campaign setup and governance. 

Setting expectations for campaign governance 

Successful partnerships between brands and their media agencies revolve around clearly structured agreements. These agreements are more than contracts; they’re blueprints for success. They should articulate clear parameters regarding not only budgets and KPIs, but also expectations around media quality, brand safety, and transparency. 

To achieve this, a brand’s marketing team should include specific clauses in contracts that outline the boundaries and standards that will govern where the brand’s ads can appear. These clauses should specifically address platforms and content, as well as the quality of content. Contracts should stipulate what’s acceptable and what is not. 

This level of clarity protects the brand and empowers the agency to make decisions that resonate with the brand’s culture and values. Importantly, these agreements should also stipulate performance metrics that measure outcomes and financial returns, as well as how well a campaign’s ad placements align with the brand's quality standards. 

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Incentivizing and measuring quality in media buys

Incentivizing quality in media buys requires dedicated focus. Establishing a reward system within your agency contract can encourage a focus on quality and brand safety.

This could manifest as performance bonuses tied to key quality indicators, such as audience engagement metrics that align with brand-safe environments. These incentives serve as a positive reinforcement, motivating agencies to consistently align with the brand’s values and priorities.

Crucial to this process is the need for daily monitoring and measurement. This isn't about punishing off-target placements but rather about creating a culture of continuous improvement. Brands should employ metrics that give insight into both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of campaigns. This dual-lens approach ensures the integrity of your brand's messaging doesn’t get lost in the pursuit of certain KPIs.

Prioritizing brand safety

As campaigns scale, maintaining brand safety becomes more complex. Here, structuring contracts to include bonuses for maintaining brand safety at scale can be highly effective. Brands should consider tiered incentives that increase with the size of the campaign while maintaining quality and safety standards. This approach not only motivates the agency to scale campaigns but also ensures they do not lose sight of the core brand values in the process.

Automating quality verification

As brands and agencies embrace strong campaign setup principles, the importance of leveraging technology in campaign governance cannot be overstated. In conversations with agencies, brands must emphasize the need for tools that automate quality verification. This automation isn’t about replacing human oversight but enhancing it.

Brands and their agencies should discuss the implementation of platforms that offer transparency in digital campaign execution. These tools should be capable of providing detailed analytics on ad placements, audience engagement, and brand safety measures, even within walled gardens. By integrating such technologies, brands ensure efficient campaign management and set a standard for accountability and precision.

Importantly, some of today’s automated tools enable monitoring of root causes of mistakes before they happen. For example, rather than measuring unsafe placements once they occur, media teams can ensure all their ads have relevant exclusion and inclusion lists to prevent brand safety risks in advance. This approach, often referred to as campaign setup governance, is shifting the attention earlier on and radically reducing unwanted exposure.

Establishing robust guardrails in brand-agency contracts is not just about creating boundaries; it's about setting the stage for success in campaign setup and governance. This approach ensures that all parties are aligned in their goals, methodologies, and expectations. It's about fostering a partnership that is resilient, adaptive, and above all, aligned with a brand's vision and values.