Global advertisers demand reform of digital ad ecosystem
The World Federation of Advertisers has published a Global Media Charter, designed to create the conditions for a marketing ecosystem that works better for brands and consumers.
Developed by more than ten of the world’s top advertisers as well as advertiser associations in the top ten global ad markets, the Global Media Charter sets out eight clear ‘Principles for Partnership’ designed to create a better, more balanced, digital marketing ecosystem.
It seeks to build on the concerns highlighted by Procter & Gamble and Unilever in the areas of transparency, brand safety, ad fraud and viewability by creating a framework that agencies, ad-tech companies and media platforms should comply with if they want to secure advertising revenues in the future.
WFA has worked closely with Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Mastercard and Diageo among other companies as well as advertiser associations in countries including the US, China, Japan, Germany and France to develop the principles which seek to recalibrate the relationships between the tripartite of client, agency and media owners.
Consumer trust in online ads is at an all-time low, especially for online advertising, while ad blocking is growing 30 per cent a year globally. WFA believes that the principles outlined in the charter, especially those focused on the responsible use of data, are essential if consumer trust in digital advertising is to be rebuilt.
“The digital ecosystem has grown so rapidly, it’s no wonder that it’s far from perfect. But the time for indulgence is over. The largest chunk of the world’s marketing budgets is now invested in digital platforms and advertisers have a right to demand that the money they invest can be clearly tracked and understood. It’s not just about knowing that budgets have been well spent. We also need to be reassured that brand and consumer interests are protected in these new platforms,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers.
The eight Principles for Partnership require action from both advertisers and those across the media value chain. They are:
1. Zero tolerance to ad fraud with compensation for any breach: a streamlined process to refund all media investments, including fees/commissions, found to be associated with invalid traffic/non-human impressions. Advertisers seek to use accredited third-party verification solutions to assess exposure to ad fraud.
2. Strict brand safety protection: Advertisers require platforms and publishers to accept responsibility for the content carried on their sites and to employ comprehensive and rigorous safeguards on which accounts and channels can host paid advertising. Advertisers commit not to target media investment at content platforms that misuse and infringe IP laws or sites responsible for fake news content or disinformation.
3. Minimum viewability thresholds: Brands should be able to trade against the viewability level that is appropriate for their business including 100% in-view for full duration, if desired. Advertisers understand that higher viewability standards could impact on inventory supply and campaign reach.
4. Transparency throughout the supply-chain: complete transparency through the supply chain (digital or otherwise) covering pricing and trading, fees and costs, placement and data usage. Advertisers respect the right of partners to be profitable and commit to relevant and fair levels of remuneration for services rendered.
5. Third-party verification and measurement as a minimum requirement: Self-reported data is unacceptable, and advertisers need third-party verification that inventory is viewable, fraud free, brand safe and on-target. Advertisers commit to prioritise third-party ad serving and verification companies who are audited and certified by the relevant industry-approved bodies.
6. Removal of ‘walled garden’ issues: data and technology should be unbundled, allowing advertisers to use the third-party buying platform of their choice in any and all environments. Publishers and platforms should work to create a solution that provides impression level data with spend tracking companies to enable brands to track media spend in their category and competitive set.
7. Improving standards with data transparency: Data supply chain partners must uphold the same high standards outlined in the WFA’s Data Transparency Manifesto. Advertisers commit to working with partners to ensure data is ethically and transparently sourced as well as securely stored with appropriate assurance mechanisms, including audits. Data collection should be the minimum required to deliver a quality advertising experience.
8. Take steps to improve the consumer experience: Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with ads that disrupt their experience, interrupt content, slow browsing or eat up their data allowances. Advertisers and platforms should design commercial communication opportunities so that they are less intrusive and offer a better user experience.
WFA, alongside the companies and advertiser associations who helped develop this charter, are calling on all players in the media value chain to work together to implement these eight principles.
Ben Jankowski, Senior Vice President of Media at Mastercard and co-chair of WFA Media Forum said “As the market continues to change quickly, global brands are being more tangible and specific about what we expect from the entire ecosystem; our tech partners, agency partners media owners and digital platforms. The WFA’s Global Media Charter is designed to ensure that everyone has the same common understanding of what we all need to do to thrive. Everyone should join us on this journey.”
Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever added “Whether it be viewability, measurement, ad fraud of brand safety, we must work collectively to drive quality and transparency for our consumers and ourselves as advertisers. The Global Media Charter builds on Unilever’s Responsibility Framework and is an essential step on the journey to a better digital ecosystem for the industry and society.”
The topics addressed in the Global Media Charter have been discussed in thousands of meetings and on countless conference stages: non-transparent media, conflicts of interest, rebates & incentives, data ownership & management, brand protection. The list is long. The challenge we as an industry face is bigger still. We need to rebuild trust: between brands and consumers, between brands and agencies and between brands and publishers. It might seem like an impossible task but the WFA Global Media Charter draws an important line in the sand. It identifies, in no uncertain language, what steps the industry needs to take to rebuild trust. Let us start the long and winding road by first making our demands and expectations clear. Then we need to work collaboratively, step by step. Be part of the journey. The time has come,” said Gerhard Louw, international Media management and digital transformation at Deutsche Telekom
WFA President and RBS CMO, David Wheldon, added “The digital eco-system is a minefield for consumers and brands, with the result that online advertising is less and less trusted by consumers and brands are often left questioning their investment strategies. It’s high time the industry as a whole drew a line in the sand and said enough is enough; things need to change and fast. The WFA Global Media Charter is critical in that it lists what brands need from their online partners so that the system can be sustainable. Put simply, it’s the only future for the online advertising ecosystem.”
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