Money & Business

Brand Safety: Coalition Works to Label, Isolate Dangerous Online Content

By / Jan 29, 2020 (fatido/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A number of major advertising groups, working with large advertisers, agencies, and dominant social media platforms, are collaborating on an effort to identify and target offensive online content in an effort to maintain brand safety.

Marketers have a lot of things to worry about when it comes to advertising—and one of the biggest on the modern internet is “brand safety,” or ensuring a product does not appear with offensive or dangerous content.

A new ad industry alliance could help with that. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media, a new collaboration between the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), aims to create unified methods for figuring out what makes a piece of content harmful, looking through a lens of shared definitions of things like spam, explicit content, and propaganda.

The efforts also will rely on the implementation of common tools to make it easier for platforms to detect issues with harmful content in a transparent fashion, as well as an independent working group for watching over agreed-upon verification standards.

The new initiative, announced last week at the World Economic Forum, brings together a number of major figures—including 39 advertisers, seven major industry groups, seven media platforms, and six major agency holding companies. Among the major companies taking part include Unilever, Mars, and Procter & Gamble.

“We have no greater responsibility as marketers than to ensure that our brands are featured, promoted and placed in environments that uphold their essential credibility and integrity,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice, in a news release.

Efforts to take on brand safety issues in the past have had mixed results—notably, advertisers have struggled to find a balance with YouTube, leading to situations where legitimate publishers lost access to revenue due to concerns about a small amount of extremist content on the platform—a situation colloquially called the “adpocalypse.” (YouTube, along with social networks such as Twitter, will be a part of the new brand-safety efforts.)

In the release, WFA CEO Stephan Loerke noted that advertisers, with better standards, could help solve these challenges collectively.

“Advertisers can play a unique role in improving the digital ecosystem that we all want to enjoy,” Loerke stated. “Given that brands fund many of the platforms and content providers, we can ensure society gets the benefits of connectivity without the downsides that have sadly also emerged.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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