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Financial Times pledges 'clearly defined' viewability standards in commercial charter

The Financial Times explains the rationale behind its commercial charter. / FINANCIAL TIMES ADVERTISING CHARTER

The Financial Times has published a commercial charter vowing to uphold "clearly defined" standards around viewability, brand safety and more.

The paper says the pledge is the "first-of-its-kind" promise from a publisher to its advertising clients, with the aim of clearly explaining the level of service brands can expect from its online advertising.

The play from the FT comes hot on the heels of intense scrutiny around the transparency afforded to advertisers from digital platforms.

Recent measurement errors and discrepencies from the likes of Facebook and Dentsu Japan coupled with questions over pricing and media agency business practices have sparked debate across the industry, including from some of advertising biggest names such as Procter & Gamble and WPP.

As such, the FT, which boasts 647,000 paying digital subscribers, says it has published a charter to publicly define how it transacts with advertisers, and to promote transparency more widely.

"For our commercial partners, the FT has always stood for elusive audiences, unrivalled data, genuine understanding of our clients’ businesses and high-quality advertising solutions," said Jon Slade, chief commercial officer.

"Mirroring the values of our journalism, we also take great pride in standing for trust in our commercial relationships. There is a real danger that all digital advertising is going to be tarred with the same brush and dragged down by unscrupulous players and bad practices. This is not in the interests of advertisers, publishers or readers."

The eight-point plan covers customer service, viewability, non-human traffic, brand safety, third-party verification, reporting, pricing and more and follows on from a reader charter published by the FT last year which made a series of commitments around trust, privacy and user experience.

Earlier today, UK and US cross-industry bodies announced a collaboration to "clean up" the digital advertising supply chain and create a consistent approach across markets. The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a US-based industry body is to work together with UK association the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) to build on existing efforts to promote brand safety and buying transparency.

Procter and Gamble, one of the world's biggest advertisers, earlier this year outlined a four-step plan to exert greater control over the quality of its media strategy to help it drive value from its investments. The brand's top marketer Marc Pritchard described the digital ecosystem as “murky at best, fraudulent at worst”.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is The Drum's breaking news and social media reporter, covering how brands and media companies are using platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and beyond.

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