Posted by Jeremy Spitzberg • Mar 18, 2021 1:58:37 PM
Louis Jones, currently Brand Safety Officer (BSO) in Residence, and former evp of media & data practices for the 4A's, was featured in AdWeek with a strong, provocative editorial, "Stop the Toxic Content—Funding Hate, Lies and Insurrection" (subscription required).
With a DoubleVerify report quantifying the level of misinformation and hate speech around the election and the attempted coup on January 6th as background, Jones issues a clarion call to the advertising industry to live up to its ideals, and to back up its own words with action.
As leaders in the advertising community, we already know the power of words designed to inspire our customers, motivate changes in behavior, strengthen our brands and sell our products. But many of our ad dollars have also funded the digital channels that spread the hatred and lies that prompted the violence on the Capitol. The study projects that websites and apps hosting that kind of hateful and false content may have doubled their ad revenue over the prior year.
No longer can the advertising industry be complicit in the poisoning of our public square by blindly and passively spending our ad dollars on platforms, publishers and ad-tech partners who facilitate the distribution of such toxic content. We must strengthen our resolve for ethical media practices. The Capitol attack alone ticks half the boxes on the Brand Safety Floor & Brand Suitability Framework, and all of those infractions were wrapped in a cloak of misinformation and disinformation.
Any BSI-affiliated effort will have an emphasis on practical suggestions for real-world change. Jones lays out several things that "[c]ompanies of all sizes should ensure they adopt, enforce and promote the following steps to mitigate the risk that their companies will support such unacceptable content."
- Set clear and specific standards for content that is suitable and supports brand/company values, while aligning with all internal stakeholders.
- Appoint and empower an executive in the role of Brand Safety Officer to ensure clear responsibility and communications for upholding those standards, as well as their enforcement.
- Invest in brand safety/suitability partners to turn those policies into action by limiting where their ad dollars appear and ensuring those content requirements are a part of all contracts.
- Set, monitor and maintain best practices through collaboration with—and certification by—recognized brand safety organizations.
We would be remiss if we didn't point you to our new Resource Library, which has tools, guides, and best-practice examples (and more!) for our members - and the wider industry - to access and use.
According to Jones, the time is now.
There is no longer any excuse for inaction. We have to better utilize the technology to establish these standards. We have advanced platforms and systems that elevate content based on algorithms and engagement, and we have the expertise to use those tools for good.