A big step forward for equality in publishing as words such as “queer” and “lesbian” won’t immediately be deemed unsuitable 


As of last week, Brand Advance Media Network announced that it would be using Mantis, powered by IBM Watson, to determine safe advertising opportunities for brands targeting minority groups. 

The new and sophisticated brand safety tool comes as welcome news to minority community publishers who are disproportionately affected by ad blocking as well as brands who are looking to embrace diversity and inclusion. 

Brand Advance is the leading cultural marketing agency, specialising in LGBTQI, Black, Asian and minority ethnic audiences. 

The marketing agency will provide the solution to its publishing clients who will be able to offer a greater degree of safe advertising spots to brands in community outlets, as well as informing important messaging to BAME and minority groups for digital and Out of Home campaigns. 

Mantis have ensured that the word “lesbian” won’t be treated as a dirty word by prejudicially blunt blocklists going forward as news content containing the word “lesbian” is often deemed unsuitable for brand advertisers as it appears on brand blocklists. 

However, Mantis, powered by IBM Watson’s Natural Language Understanding differs by being able to determine context. 

For example, it can identify positive news stories about LGBTQI role models, which have no bearing on brand safety. This allows brands to appear next to stories about diversity and inclusivity. 

Brand Advance will also use Mantis to inform and reach BAME communities for important campaigns such as COVID-19 track and tracing both online and Out of Home. Historically, information campaigns have struggled to reach minority groups in mainstream media. 

Mantis looks at categories, concepts, entities (people, place names), keywords, sentiment and emotion to determine the true safety rating of the page – rather than relying on keywords alone. Current brand safety filters block around 29% of content. Mantis safely reduces this average to 11%. 

Christopher Kenna, CEO at Brand Advance said: “We are extremely excited to have partnered with Mantis, which will allow us to ensure that we are able to give our clients access to as much diversity media inventory as possible – whilst still maintaining their brand safety around Keywords.” 

He added: “The power of contextual media is everything Brand Advance stands for – this is further enhanced by the ability now to tag the context of each article and the sentiment around that article – ensuring that we only restrict negative sentiment around keyword or phases, at clients request – this will also ensure that maximum revenue is earned by every publisher on our network. In today’s world, this partnership could not be more relevant and we look forward to building this out as a multi-layer data intelligence offering.” 

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