Admen’s alliance calls for online safety

The alliance includes advertisers, tech platforms, media agencies of holding companies WPP, IPG, Publicis, Omnicom and Dentsu, media owners, and trade bodies.

CANNES: The world’s biggest advertisers have gathered in Cannes to push tech platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to do more to safeguard consumers and brands against dangerous and fake content. 16 companies including P&G, Unilever, Adidas, Danone, Mondelez International, Nestle, Mars, LVMH and Diageo, joined forces to form The Global Alliance for Responsible Media to collective push to make online environments safer. Diageo was one of the major advertisers that had pulled all advertising from YouTube over brand safety concerns in 2017.

Despite assurances and measures introduced by the tech platforms to appease advertisers, their algorithms and content streams have been compromised on several occasions with questionable and harmful material.

The alliance also marks the first formal industry collaboration to protect online spaces. As Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media at Unilever, pointed out, all sides of the industry have come together to tackle the problem.

The alliance includes advertisers, tech platforms, media agencies of holding companies WPP, IPG, Publicis, Omnicom and Dentsu, media owners, and trade bodies.

According to the manifesto, ‘Alliance members will work collaboratively to identify actions that will better protect consumers online, working towards a media environment where hate speech, bullying and disinformation is challenged, where personal data is protected, and used responsibly when given, and where everyone is, especially children, better protected online.’ The initiative is spearheaded by the trade body World Federation of Advertisers. Its president Mastercard’s chief marketing officer and president – healthcare business, Raja Rajamannar tells ET in an exclusive chat at Cannes Lions, “In recent years, we have seen that online platforms are playing an increasingly important role in shaping cultures and mobilising communities across the globe.

This implies that the platforms, and those who fund those platforms - i.e. brands, have a greater responsibility to make sure that these online environments trigger positive change in the society and not conflict or violence. We must move beyond philosophical agreements, identify tangible deliverables, rights, responsibilities and accountabilities.”

He adds, “The first step is to acknowledge flaws and invest in long term solutions. I believe that so far, the stakeholders have responded well to WFA’s initiative and we can expect that the platforms will invest more to safeguard their services and algorithms from being compromised at the hands of unscrupulous elements.”

Alliance members are also asking for the industry to open all meetings in Cannes with a call to action. Isabel Massey, global media director, Diageo, said in a statement, “you’ll hear me start every meeting in Cannes with one simple question: ’What more could we do together?’ I ask others to do the same.”




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