4A’s clamps down on brand safety with launch of Advertising Protection Bureau

The 4As launched its new brand safety task force, the Advertiser Protection Bureau / Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash

The 4A's announced at its Accelerate Conference today the formation of a brand safety task force, called the Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB).

Through this bureau, agencies will share the collective responsibility of achieving what the trade body calls “Advertising Assurance,” or how the association defines its efforts to enforce environments where brands and consumers can coexist with trust.

This new bureau will allow agency groups to work together for the good of all the brands they serve by notifying each other when they see any brand ads — whether from their network or not — in unsafe environments. This has the potential to streamline a process in which risky environments are flagged by the APB and then investigated by agency-client teams.

Founding members of the APB include executives from Dentsu Aegis Network, GroupM, Havas Media, Horizon Media, IPG Mediabrands, MDC Partners, Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Media. Each holding company — as well as Horizon Media — has committed to dedicating a Brand Safety Leader within their network to serve on the bureau.

In a statement, the 4A's considered the APB’s formation “the first step” in a list of actions that nearly 100 4A’s members and industry leaders outlined and rallied around at the Advertising Assurance Forum — a closed-door event hosted by the 4A’s on March 19.

These next steps included the development of a risk model, in which this APB will work with brands to develop a spectrum of risk and allow for agencies, advertisers, publishers and platforms to understand how risky or appropriate a piece of content is. Also, the 4A's is to collaborate on a code of decency with the Media Ratings Council, that will live within MRC’s brand safety guidelines as a resource for media agencies to identify and mitigate fake news. Third, to address and educate professionals on the new standards, metrics, methodologies and tools being utilized in the name of brand safety, an industry playbook is to be created.

Said Louis Jones, executive vice president of media and data at the 4A’s: “When it comes to brand and consumer safety, media agencies have to put competition aside. Brand safety and the negative impact it has on consumer trust is an issue that affects everyone. APB is our first step in breaking down the silos to create a united community that protects the health of all brands, while keeping consumers safe, too. Of course, this isn’t just an agency conversation; our industry has to have active participation from brands and publishers to be successful in improving the litany of issues around this topic. We look forward to working collaboratively with our industry partners to create effective solutions.”

Marla Kaplowitz, 4A’s president and chief executive, gave a preview to The Drum in early January that brand safety would be a strong area of focus for her trade organization. Kaplowitz added: “There has been a lot of discussion around brand safety. What’s unique about Advertising Assurance is that it evolves that discussion to a more holistic view of what our responsibility is to consumers, to brands and to each other because advertising assurance can’t happen if we’re not communicating with each other and working together.”

The advertising and media trade bodies have started taking action in response to brand safety and data breach issues afflicting YouTube, Google and Facebook, Snapchat and others. In late March, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) announced its own digging into Cambridge Analytica, as well as a plan to create its own code of conduct for its members. That code of conduct announcement is scheduled to take place in a town hall and livestream on April 26.

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