January 26, 2024


Public media sales professionals have long positioned our digital platforms as a safe alternative to an evolving digital advertising landscape rife with ad fraud, non-viewable impressions and other factors that threaten its effectiveness. Indeed, the idea that we sell directly into our own uncluttered, quality digital environments has been a key differentiator against the unregulated wild west aspects of programmatic digital advertising exchanges

And now it seems there is even more reason for marketers to look toward public media when it comes to digital advertising, and that is the growing imperative of brand safety. 

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), brand safety is defined as “keeping a brand’s reputation safe when they advertise online.” It is the idea that a company’s brand would not appear next to undesirable or inappropriate content that may have an adverse effect on that company’s brand perception or image. Notably, IAB also extends the definition to include a safe environment for ad trading. 

With a growing number of advertisers pulling ads from digital and social media platforms to avoid undesirable placements, brand safety is becoming an increasingly important consideration for marketers and publishers alike, especially in the current era of misinformation and “fake news.”

The concept of brand safety and image – not to mention ethical sales practices –  play right into public media’s strengths, especially in an election year.  

Happily, a new analysis from Sounder helps make the case. The study shows that NPR shows are significantly safer for brands than are the general population of podcasting within the news genre. 

According to Inside Radio, “the [Sounder] review shows that 81% of NPR’s news content was classified as unrelated or low-risk for sensitive topics based on the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s brand safety standards. That compares to a 54% average for news podcasts overall. The Sounder analysis also finds that NPR has 13% fewer discussions of medium-risk sensitive topics than news podcasts overall, and that just 2.3% of NPR content is categorized as graphic discussions of high-risk sensitive issues. Thanks to the need to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standards, NPR doesn’t feature any content categorized as “floor,” which is deemed unsuitable for advertising.”

All station sales teams should lean into this new research to strengthen your station’s value proposition in the year ahead, and to engage and educate your prospects and clients about the importance of brand safety. In doing so, you will not only highlight the unique benefits of your stations’ safe media environment and the quality NPR brand, but you’ll position yourself as a trustworthy consultative salesperson in doing so. 

If nothing else, when was the last time you were able to say “thanks to the need to comply with the FCC…”?