The 4A’s, founded a century ago as a trade organization to represent advertising agencies, recently announced a consortium called the Advertiser Protection Bureau to tackle brand safety issues. The announcement was made at this year’s “Accelerate” conference held in April. Concerns related to safety of brands have been on the rise over the past few years. The latest one, as reported by CNN Money in April, is YouTube finding itself in the middle of yet another brand safety scandal. As per the report, advertisements from more than 300 companies such as Adidas, Netflix, Hershey, etc. were found in proximity of channels promoting nationalists, conspiracy theories, pedophilia and other propagandas. The alarming rate at which brand safety is being discussed makes it even more relevant for such a group to exist.
Why Ensuring Brand Safety Is Vital
From an advertising point of view, safety means the set of practices undertaken to protect not only the ads, but also the viewers and brands from getting compromised. Getting placed next to inappropriate content and improper websites are issues marketers have pointed out in the context of brand safety. As per the 2017 CMO Council report, 72 percent of the CMOs face pressure from seniors to secure brand trust, while 78 percent of the CMOs report that the biggest negative impact of bad digital ad placement is the tarnishing of brand reputation.
The Advertiser Protection Bureau, also called Bureau, includes executives from GroupM, Dentsu Aegis Network, IPG Mediabrands, Havas Media, Horizon Media, Omnicom Media Group, Publicis Media and MDC Partners. The agencies are setting aside competition to form a brand safety task force.
How Brand Safety Can Be Ensured
The members of the Bureau, with the help of the Media Rating Council — a nonprofit organization that sets media-measurement standards — will develop processes to define and evaluate risk categories across brands. A message notification system will be installed across networks to make communication easy and efficient. For every member holding company as well as Horizon Media (an independent agency), a brand safety leader will be appointed who will be responsible for ensuring that the protocol is followed by employees. Some agencies under holding companies such as UM Worldwide (Universal McCann) will set KPIs to determine how involved every employee is toward this undertaking. The formation of the Bureau is, however, not to foster any brand safety standard that is competitive within the industry.
How This Will Help Brands
The Bureau enables member agency groups to work amicably toward brand safety. Keeping rivalry aside, member agencies notify each other when they see any brand in an unsafe or unsuitable environment — irrespective of whether the brand is from their network or not.
Louis Jones, EVP, Media & Data at the 4A’s said in one of the interviews, “We are creating a database where everybody can report in and say, ‘I am from Dentsu Aegis and I just saw some of your Publicis brands in places where you don’t want them,’ and then that information gets shared so that everyone can collectively act and keep every brand, potentially, every major brand in the marketplace, safe.”
Through this consortium, agencies will be better aware of what is happening in the industry related to all possible fraudulent activities, and how to report them in the best possible manner. By working together and sharing information, agencies can be expected to alleviate the safety issues across the industry.