All reference in this policy to The Student Room Group shall pertain to The Student Room and Get Revising only. Last updated 18 October 2017.
THE LEGAL BIT FOR ADVERTISERS TO ENSURE BRAND SAFETY
The Student Room Group take client brand safety seriously, investing time and deploying technology to meet and exceed industry best practice standards.
This policy document describes the processes and technologies which The Student Room Group employs to ensure brand safety for our clients.
It outlines the ways in which we take all reasonable measures to mitigate brand safety risks on both www.thestudentroom.co.uk and www.getrevising.co.uk (on-site), and the delivery channels we use when serving adverts on third party websites around the internet (off-site).
Third Party Verification
The Student Room Group works with the independent audit watchdog, ABC, to provide consultancy and verification of the DTSG UK Good Practice Principles for the Trading of Digital Display Advertising. We are working with ABC to receive DTSG certification in 2017.
We use, the JICWEBS accredited, Integral Ad Science tools to provide brand safety verification on The Student Room Group, and pre-bid brand safety verification on advertising purchased on third party programmatic ad exchanges.
We welcome our clients & agency partners in their use of third party verification tools to independently assess our inventory on The Student Room Group, as well as the inventory we purchase on third party websites.
This approach to verification can be deployed without any involvement from The Student Room Group.
Advertising with The Student Room Group
The Student Room Group Community Guidelines
The Student Room Group site rules explicitly prevent:
- Assisting with, condoning, or advocating illegal activity
- Academic and job interview cheating
- Hate speech
- Emotional abuse and bullying
- Personal attacks or inflammatory behaviour
- Physical violence to others
- Breach of copyright
For more detailed information, please read our community rules and guidelines.
Approach to Moderation
The Student Room Group is a well moderated community, and we take our responsibility to students and our clients very seriously.
We employ a well-trained Community Team which works round the clock alongside a 50+ volunteer Support Team, all of whom are checked by the UK Government Disclosure and Barring Service.
We provide our users with tools to quickly report any content which they think may be in breach of our site rules. More serious reports can be marked as ‘urgent’ by our teams which remove the content from the site immediately.
Where inappropriate content is reported on The Student Room Group, we target removal within 24 hours, however we usually achieve removal significantly quicker – often within 3 hours. We prioritise reports by urgency so the more serious posts are reviewed and removed faster.
We use automated language filters on user generated content to prevent users from swearing.
For more information, please read our moderation policy. We also have an internal Welfare Policy outlining the process of staff escalation for any instances where a user may be at risk.
Brand Safety Verification
As a result of our Community Guidelines and Moderation Policy, and as publishers of our own domain, we are confident in the very limited brand safety risks on The Student Room Group.
We verify this by continuously monitoring brand safety risk on The Student Room Group using Integral Ad Science (IAS) verification services and where opportunities to improve are identified we ensure that our processes or technologies are upgraded accordingly.
We do not show adverts in our religion forums. Our Community Guidelines and moderation approach already prevented any inappropriate content in these areas, so we see this as having minimal risk impact, but believe it adds further reassurance for our clients.
When requested, we can exclude campaigns from running on other areas of The Student Room Group in which there is a slightly higher chance of riskier content appearing.
We are in the process of integrating IAS optimisation tools. These will enable us to evolve our current approach, and rather than using content area exclusions, we will transition to an approach where we can use IAS tools to target any client campaign at specific IAS risk levels, based on page level assessment of brand safety.
Buying on Third Party Websites
Our off-site delivery channels enable us to target our audience on third party websites. We have implemented additional processes and technologies to ensure that outside of our own controlled domain, we can also ensure market leading levels of brand safety.
Pre Bid Ad Verification
The Student Room Group uses Integral Ad Science’s pre-bid ad verification tools on our off-site products to ensure all advertisements purchased on ad exchanges meet robust brand safety expectations.
These Integral Ad Science tools use market-leading pre-bid technology to prevent bidding on impressions on URL’s/pages that their algorithms have detected as inappropriate, ensuring our partner brands are protected against appearing next to unsafe content.
We only purchase adverts on Low Risk content, and we exclude all “unrateable content”.
Domain Category Exclusions
When purchasing adverts on third party exchanges we exclude the following categories:
- Downloads & Sharing
- Illegal Downloads
- Hate Speech
- Offensive Language
- Transportation Accidents
- Sensitive social issues
- Unrateable content
Digital Content Labels
We use Google’s digital content labelling to provide a further layer of brand safety when purchasing adverts on third party websites. We use this approach to exclude ads from appearing against content that is rated as only suitable for Mature Audiences, as well as content that has not been labelled yet.
We do not buy adverts on the Facebook Audience Network as we do not have enough confidence in their brand safety controls.
We do not use pre bid verification tools, or content category blocking when purchasing adverts on www.facebook.com, as Facebook does not support these technologies, and we believe that Facebook’s Community Guidelines provide for a reasonably brand safe environment.
IAS pre-bid verification services do build brand safety scores on pages containing video, based on the URL, keywords on the page, and inbound and outbound links of the page that a video is hosted on. They cannot however screen the audio and video content itself.
As a result of this reduced ability to verify brand safety risk, and because we feel that their community guidelines and approach to moderation do not currently provide enough reassurance for brands, we do not currently buy adverts on YouTube. We anticipate that YouTube will tighten up on their community guidelines and brand safety technology, to offer brands an appropriate level of risk assurance in the future, and we will continue to monitor this.
We exclude all in-video advertising formats when purchasing programmatically.
We research and use blacklists to block all primarily video-sharing websites that we identify.
Video is now a part of almost all websites, so it is not realistic to exclude any web page that contains video, however our use of brand safety technologies and our brand safety processes reduces video brand safety risk to a level we believe to be very acceptable.
By using Category Exclusions and IAS pre bid verification we almost completely eliminate the need for maintaining our own domain blacklists.
Instead IAS analyze brand risk at the page level based on multiple variables including text, inbound and outbound links, and the URL, so that those pages can be excluded by pre-bid targeting.
We consider this approach to be significantly more sophisticated and robust than using manually created blacklists.
We research and use blacklists to block all primarily video-sharing websites that we identify.
We add any domains/URLs reported under our Takedown Policy on a global blacklist.
If clients or agencies wish to provide additional lists of unsafe domains, alongside detailed explanations of how those blacklists have been compiled, then we will review the methodology and blacklists, and agree with the client the most suitable approach on a case-by-case basis.
Whitelists do not eliminate the risk of unsafe content appearing on a safe domain. They also impact the reach and commercial effectiveness of programmatic campaigns, and for buyers using pre-bid verification and content category exclusion, they have very little impact on brand safety risk.
The Student Room Group does not therefore use whitelists on our Audience Extension or Targeted Programmatic Prospecting products.
If whitelists are a requirement then we would be happy to discuss this in more detail, and if necessary create a bespoke product for your needs.
The Student Room Group aims to achieve the highest brand safety standards by using a combination of strong processes, market leading brand safety tools and world class ad technology providers, all supported by market renowned brand safety consultants.
If any misplaced ads are identified, they are over-delivered free of cost.
In the event that an advert is displayed against inappropriate content, our takedown policy targets removal of that advert within 3 business hours of notification. Depending on the circumstances, we may pause campaigns temporarily whilst we resolve the issue. The contractual consequences of not taking down an advert in accordance with our takedown policy are evaluated and agreed with the client on a case by case basis.
To contact us about a takedown requirement, please email: email@example.com and copy in your Account Manager, or call our Client Services Team on 01273 646 300.
We will add any offending URLs to our global blacklist as well as reporting the incident to IAS.
We do not include domain level reporting as standard, but are able to provide a list of domains that adverts have been served on, on request.