Troubling sites should be tackled by a responsible media supply chain, says MARC PRITCHARD, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble. He suggests four ways in which we can bring ethics and civility back into the mix.
Twenty-five years ago the first digital banner ad was launched, and a media revolution was born. Since then, data and digital technology have disrupted every aspect of the advertising, media and marketing ecosystem, transforming how we inform, entertain and engage people.
There have been many positive benefits. Creativity has expanded. Nearly any information can be found instantly. Shopping has never been easier. People connect in novel ways never thought possible. And the next decade will bring more change. We can see a world without ads as we know them today: where mass personalisation is the norm; where immersive technologies transform media experiences; and where advertising serves as a positive force for society.
The dark side
But there is a dark side to this revolution. Lack of transparency has led to massive media waste, and issues of brand and human safety. As digital media became dominant, we faced the inconvenient truth that we were operating in a murky and sometimes even fraudulent media supply chain. And while progress has been made to clean it up, it’s not enough.
Digital media continues to grow – and with it, a dark side persists. Waste and fraud continue. Privacy breaches and consumer data misuse keeps occurring. Unacceptable content continues to be seen and viewed alongside brands. Bad actors siphon funds from advertisers and find ways to create scams, divisiveness and social unrest.
These are significant problems. As the next half of the world’s population comes online, the problems could grow exponentially unless all stakeholders come together and act. We are in the early stages of artificial intelligence and virtual, augmented and mixed reality – so imagine what broad application of those technologies could bring if left unchecked. While the clean-up efforts must continue, it’s time to use our collective intellectual firepower to chart the course for a different future.
It’s time to create a responsible media supply chain that is built for the year 2030. Imagine a media supply chain that operates in a way that is safe, efficient, transparent, accountable, and properly moderated for everyone involved, especially for the consumers we serve. Imagine a responsible media supply chain that builds in the following attributes:
Content quality. Every media provider would have complete control over content quality on their platform. Common standards would be followed so certain types of content would not exist and would certainly not be monetised through advertising. Advertising would never be next to content where opioids are being offered; where illegal drugs are promoted; where abhorrent behaviour is present; or where violence is seen.
Civility. Freedom of speech is a right, but civility is a responsibility. That means every media provider would handle editorial comments in a way that promotes freedom of expression, but in a way that creates a balanced and constructive discourse. Technology would enable broad and productive conversations, but technology would not make it easy to hijack conversations and disproportionately amplify negativity, divisiveness, or hate.
Transparency. That means all media providers would enable full measurement visibility on ad viewability and audience reach, both within their platforms and across all platforms. This would create a better experience for consumers who would not be forced to see the same ad over and over again – on the same programme, on the same platform, or across multiple platforms. Transparency would help avoid annoying consumers with too many ads and avoid wasting money.
Data responsibility. That means all stakeholders would follow common privacy standards and practices that start and end with serving the best interests of consumers. Choices would be simple, consistently worded, and completely understandable, so each person knows exactly what permission they’re granting and what control they have over their data. Consumers would trust that all media providers and advertisers are responsibly handling their data.
It’s time for all stakeholders to come together and create a responsible media supply chain that builds in content quality, civility, transparency, and data responsibility from the very start – a supply chain that is good for consumers and good for business. We’re on the edge of the next great revolution of technology. With all the great minds in our industry, we can and should avoid the pitfalls of the past and chart the course for a responsible future.
Transparency equals trust
“For Mark1 Media, transparency equals trust and I think it goes without saying that all relationships should be built on trust.
There really is no reason why agencies would want to take the risk in not being transparent across the board, whether it be for brand safety, viewability, fraud and fees.
If you look at the ongoing Uber ad fraud debacle, not only has the agency lost the trust of the client but have also tarnished their reputation permanently and they now face the legal ramifications as well.
Clients need to understand that it is as much their responsibility as it is their agency’s and an ongoing, open dialogue is vital to ensure all set conditions are fair and viable and in all parties’ best interest.
This in turn can only lead to a more positive environment in our industry where everyone benefits, right through to publishers that offer solutions that speak to these concerns.” ~ Joe Steyn-Begley
This story was first published in The Media Yearbook 2020.
Every day, my personal mission is to be useful. I am fortunate to be part of a great company that is useful to 5 billion people around the world with trusted brands such as Tide, Pampers, Crest, Bounty, Charmin, Dawn, Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Olay, SK-II, Secret, Old Spice, Gillette, Venus, Vicks and many more. As Chief Brand Officer of P&G, I believe in the power of brands to serve people with the best performing household and personal care products, while also being a force for good through ethics and responsibility, community impact, diversity and inclusion, gender equality and environmental sustainability.
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