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Topics include: Direct to consumer / E-commerce / Data & privacy / Martech

Problem Solved #3: Ethical whitelisting lets brands back positive change with ad dollars

Ethical whitelisting: how brands can support positive change with their ad dollars.

To mark the launch of our new manifesto – setting out The Drum’s editorial mission to help readers solve their problems – we’re christening today Solutions Day on And to set the tone, over the course of 24 hours our team of worldwide journalists will be spotlighting 24 recent examples of times when our industry demonstrated its remarkable talent for solving problems.

Problem: In July, more than 1,100 advertisers boycotted Facebook in protest over its hate speech and misinformation policies. Global brands such as Starbucks, Diageo, Verizon, The North Face and Ben & Jerry’s pulled their marketing dollars in order to put pressure on the social network to tackle hate speech, damaging content and misinformation.

Solution: Ethical whitelisting can be used to help brands support platforms that have more progressive employment practices and sustainability practices. This approach would allow brands to support positive change with all of their advertising dollars, not just individual campaigns.

Read the original article here.

  • By employing an ethical whitelist, a brand could choose to direct advertising dollars towards or away from platforms based on their stance on things like equality, diversity and sustainability, even things like unionisation or freedom of expression.

  • While having an ethical whitelist is good, it may throw up some issues. There are concerns that smaller platforms may have a harder time working within an ethical whitelist framework due to technical implementation costs.

  • This means brands have a responsibility to verify ethical whitelists' validity, and not use them as an excuse to over-centralise their media investments,” he explains.

  • In the US, media agency Mindshare has used this approach to address algorithmic biases as traditional brand safety practices can sometimes penalise more marginal publishers.

  • Mindshare has worked with LGBTQ publishers in the US to create a PMP that allows more progressive brands to advertise with those publishers in the knowledge that their platforms and experiences are brand safe.

Jerry Daykin, the senior media director at GSK said: “The industry should not use the words ‘white’ and ‘black’ list, especially not in an ethical context, but an ethical exclusion list is a key consideration for brands.

"The notion of ‘brand safety’ has become a key c-suite discussion due to a range of high profile incidents like the Facebook boycott, many of the reactions to the situation have created new challenges.

"Without proper settings in place brands will unknowingly be funding hate speech, misinformation and generally appearing alongside contexts which undermine their brand positioning. It isn’t necessarily about having a big purpose or ethical CSR approach, it’s about doing the basic due diligence that all marketers should do, and not allowing our budgets to fund the worst parts of the internet.”

Read more Problem Solved articles in our Solutions Day hub.

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