- 4A's unveiled the Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB), where agencies will collectively share the responsibility of creating a community that protects the health of all brands while keeping consumers safe, too, according to a press release. The announcement was made at the 4A's closed Accelerate conference last month but only now released more broadly.
- APB founding members include executives from Dentsu Aegis Network, GroupM, Havas Media, Horizon Media, IPG Mediabrands, MDC Partners, Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Media. Each of the holding companies and Horizon Media are committing to establish a dedicated Brand Safety Leader to serve on the bureau.
- The APB introduced a process to flag "risky environments" to be investigated by agency-client teams. Agency groups will work together to notify one another when they see a brand's ads in unsafe environments. Next steps for achieving Advertising Assurance, which is what the group is calling its efforts around brand safety, include developing a risk management module, creating a code of decency and educating the ecosystem.
The news underscores the severity of the issues around brand safety and transparency in digital marketing, as the APB is a significant collaborative effort across the agency landscape — a segment known more for cutthroat competition than cooperation — that includes a large trade group, major ad holding companies and other agencies. It's one of the first major efforts from the agency portion of the digital media supply chain to address the complex issues of brand safety and transparency, which involve many different players, including digital platforms like Facebook and Google that are also trying to address such problems.
The APB appears to be an opportunity by agencies to show brand marketers their concerns are being taken seriously. Among CMOs, 72% report feeling pressure from brand safety issues, and 77% of brand marketers think brand safety impacts ROI. To combat the issue, 91% of digital marketers have brand-safe strategies in the works. To be successful, the APB will need buy-in from brand marketers and publishers.
"When it comes to brand and consumer safety, media agencies have to put competition aside," Louis Jones, EVP, media and data at the 4A's, said in a statement. "Brand safety and the negative impact it has on consumer trust is an issue that affects everyone."
The APB also plans to develop a risk management module, allowing agencies, advertisers and publishers to better determine advertisers’ bandwidth for risk and appropriateness and to create categories of risk.
The initiative also aims to create a code of decency and a set of ground rules to align a baseline for safety within the Media Rating Council's Brand Safety Guidelines, which are currently being drafted. Media agencies will also work with the MRC to ease the spread of fake news by identifying efforts and methodologies. Another part of the plan is to educate the entire digital advertising ecosystem by developing an industry "playbook" with new standards, metrics, methodologies and tools to eliminate unsafe environments for brands and consumers.