PPC Brand Safety 2020: Social Channels

This is the second of a two-part series on brand safety in 2020.

Yesterday, I outlined brand safety in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. Brand safety is a term that has become increasingly popular for digital advertisers in the last couple of years. If you want a recap of some of the history behind brand safety, check out my first post.

Facebook Ads

In its most recent redesign, Facebook Business Manager made brand safety options front and center. In the navigation panel, Brand Safety now has its own shortcut.

Once you click on Brand Safety, you’ll see several options in the left navigation bar.

If you’re operating from a Business Manager, you’ll be able to see a table that recaps the settings for each of the accounts in your Manager account.

Click “Controls” in the left navigation bar to manage inventory and Audience Network settings, block lists and topic exclusions. By default, inventory and Audience Network settings are set to “Standard.”

For a more in-depth look at exactly what’s included in each setting, click the blue text that says “See what’s included in each filter for in-stream videos and Instant Articles placements on Facebook”.

An entire table will pop up that lets you know what levels of tragedy, conflict, social issues, sexual or suggestive topics or strong language are included.

For Audience Network settings, the “Keep the same setting for Audience Network” is clicked by default, which would make Audience Network and In-stream video and Instant Articles settings the same. If you don’t want that, you can choose full, standard or limited inventory for this setting as well. It appears that the settings are the same between the Audience Network and In-Stream Video/Instant Articles, but you’ll want to double check that if there is a specific topic you’re looking to avoid.

Facebook Publisher Lists

Before we hop into Block Lists, we should first review the Facebook Publisher list, which is where your ads could appear.

You can download the entire Facebook Publisher List of Audience Network apps and Facebook Pages for Instant Articles and in-stream videos. Each placement is its own list.

As of publication, in the Audience Network file, it includes a URL, a name of an organization/brand/content creator name, whether its new to the list since the last update, its app store category, a minimum age rating, if it appears as a native/banner/interstitial audience network ad, and if its an Audience Network Rewarded Video. If you don’t know what a Rewarded Video is its a video placement available for gaming apps. Players can choose to watch the video in exchange for a reward, such as virtual currency or other in-app items.

The Instant Articles file includes columns for a URL, the organization/brand/content creator name, whether its new to the list, the number of followers on the associated Page, the language and whether is a “Blue Verified Page”, which means Facebook has confirmed that the account is authentic presence of a public figure, celebrity or global brand.

The In-Stream Video file includes columns for URL, the Page Name, whether its new to the list, whether there are live ads in videos, the number of Page followers, language, whether its a Blue Verified Page, the number of videos uploaded last week, and median views per video over the last 28 days.

If you have specific apps, Facebook Pages or types of content that you’re actively looking to avoid, combing through these lists regularly is a good idea.

Facebook Ad Delivery Reports

If you’re curious where your ads appeared and the number of impressions that were gathered from those specific placements, you can select the placement, timeframe and campaign to download a report.

Once you select a placement, you can search and filter that placement by Page name, App name or URL to see if your ads appeared there.

According to Facebook’s help articles, there is a lag of 3-5 days on the information you can download. Additionally, this information is only good for 90 days.

There is two kinds of data that you can expect to garner from reviewing these reports: Publisher level and Content level. Published level data will indicate the impression data for Facebook Pages (for in-stream video ads and Instant Articles ads) and Audience Network URLs. Content level data will let you click the links to review the in-stream videos or Instant Articles that your ads appeared within or beside.

Facebook Block Lists

Once you have reviewed the Facebook inventory lists, adjusted your settings and examined where your ads are appearing, you may choose to create a Block List of URLs where you don’t want your ads to appear.

To do this, click Block Lists in the left navigation bar.

Click the green “Create Block List” button to get started uploading your list.

The list will need to be a .txt or .csv file with no more than 10,000 lines. In the event you have more than 10,000 placements to exclude, you’ll want to create multiple files.

Give the Block List a Name and click Upload.

Once your Block List is uploaded and processed, click the three dots beside it to Apply/Remove, Replace, Download or Delete it.

You’ll want to make sure to replace the list if and when you update it.


In LinkedIn, you only have to worry about utilizing brand safety features if you’re running on the LinkedIn Audience Network. This is only an option for single image and video ad formats (that aren’t utilizing lead gen forms).

Within the campaign targeting options, scroll to the Placement section.

You can choose specific categories to exclude like politics, specific health problems, and more. You can also choose to exclude content that is “uncategorized”.

To block specific websites, create and upload a block list of URLs, iTunes App Store URLs or Android Play Store URLs. The .CSV or .txt file only requires one column of URLs. Once uploaded, it can take up to 48 hours to process, just like LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences options.

These are the two ways to keep your brand safe in LinkedIn. If you’re too worried about the placements of your ads, I would recommend removing the Audience Network from your campaigns. While your ads will be delivered less, there will be no question about brand safety.


As more companies become conscious of the need for brand safety, these features will become increasingly important. It’s my prediction that we will continue to see new features released so that advertisers can have additional control over their advertising.

What brand safety tips do you have? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!