News & Opinion

Reach and IBM launch Mantis, using IBM Watson to make brand safety smarter

The platform uses AI and machine learning to check whether content is appropriate for advertising and reducing unnecessary blacklisting.

A significant proportion of news content alone is blacklisted to advertisers, reducing revenue for publishers and reducing reach within premium content for brands, a problem that stems from the less intuitive and less sophisticated solutions currently on the market. By sitting on the IBM cloud, Mantis will enable Reach to develop secure brand safety solutions at scale supporting IBM and Reach’s goal of rolling out across the globe.

Mantis comes at a time when brand safety has been an increasing concern for the advertising industry, with publishers and social platforms often unable to monitor content at the volume and accuracy required to guarantee a piece of content is safe for a brand to be placed within. Brands and agencies have also expressed frustration with the need to increasingly bring in third party brand safety tools themselves. 

Existing models for identifying unsafe content have largely relied on the creation of long lists of “unsafe” keywords. However, the model has been far from bulletproof and has resulted in the blacklisting of reams of undoubtedly safe content, resulting in lost ad revenue for publishers. 

Terry Hornsby, Digital Solutions Director at Reach plc said: “From a brand perspective, the margin for error has simply been too great – no one wants to see their product next to an upsetting or graphic story. And from the publishing side, simply too much of our content was being blacklisted, even the most perfectly innocent stories. My starting point was making sure that a football report on someone ‘shooting a winning goal’ was recognised for what it is – a great piece of content that most brands would love to be next to, not a violent story.”

The solution has allowed for much more accurate, and automated detection of whether the content on a page is ‘brand safe’ and even at high volumes, without any publishing delay. 

Alison Davis, IBM Industry Lead for Telco, Media and Entertainment in the UK commented: “Safeguarding an organisation’s brand is essential to earning consumer trust and publishers globally have struggled to use the existing solutions to prove that their content is safe for those brands. By bringing this digital platform to market, IBM and Reach aim to improve the advertising landscape for both publishers and brands. It’s only by deploying AI with IBM Watson, that we can help Reach detect brand safety issues in real time and help prove how not only safe, but effective content that’s blacklisted today, can be for advertisers. It’s a win-win which we believe will scale across the industry in the UK and globally.” 

The product is now live at Reach and is being taken out to market for other publishers and content owners, both in the UK and abroad. Reach are handling licensing queries in the UK while IBM are covering the U.S. 

Source: Reach Solutions


by Hannah Ohm Thomas 16/10/19

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