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Brand Safety is Front and Center at NewFronts: OMD’s Winkler

Brand safety up, virtual reality down. To Ben Winkler, these are the two biggest changes year-over-year in the magnitude of discourse at the Digital Content NewFronts.

“I haven’t seen a single presentation that didn’t begin, have a middle and end with brand safety,” says the Chief Investment Officer at OMD. “I’ve seen the biggest rise on the side of brand safety and the biggest decline on the side of virtual reality.”

Last year, Winkler explains in this interview with Beet.TV, you could not walk out of NewFronts presentations “without Google Cardboard strapped to your head looking at the latest virtual reality options.” By contrast, this year some company presentations “aren’t even checking the box, and that’s a function of scale,” he adds. “Our clients need big scale to reach lots of people, and VR isn’t quite there yet.”

On the contrary, there’s no escaping the subject of brand safety in the light of some marketers pulling their ads from digital platforms that haven’t done enough to ensure their content is inoffensive. To Winkler’s way of thinking, there should not be a debate about the need for brand-safe environments.

“There’s nothing more important than the context in which our clients’ advertising appears. That’s what brand safety is,” he says.

Publishers that create and own their content have a “very simple and elegant story” about brand safety, he says. That’s a far cry from platforms that are populated with lots of user-generated content.

“The challenge YouTube will have is trying to combine their massive scale with the technology and human element to make all of our clients feel comfortable about advertising in that marketplace.”

He welcomes the audience-targeting consortium OpenAP formed by Fox, Turner and Viacom because it represents a radical departure from buying TV audiences based on broad age and gender demographics.

Being able to target specific audiences is “extraordinarily important” and it’s going to make TV more effective both for the advertisers and for the broadcasters themselves,” says Winkler.

We spoke with him at the Turner NewFronts presentation.

This video is part of Beet.TV’s coverage of the IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts 2017. The series is sponsored by the IAB. For more videos from the #NewFronts, please visit this page.