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Media Future of Media Google

Future of Media: How tech polices brand safety, Oz news laws, Tide turns on accessible ads


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

February 18, 2021 | 8 min read

This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d want the full thing in your inbox once a week.


Happy media Thursday. John McCarthy (Twitter, Linkedin, email) here. We're halfway through February which means The Drum Online Media Awards is approaching fast. In this briefing we've documented how demanding the last year has been for media. For the media owners, publishers and journos among you, you, and your colleagues, deserve an event, some recognition, a few drinks, and even maybe an award after an AWFUL year. You can enter here. The virtual show will be Friday 30 April 2021.

We're past the deadline but there remains time. Get in touch with our team, and tell them I sent you. Good luck, and hopefully see you there. Now to the stories!

Oz laws

Australia's fighting with tech giants over the news. The battle centres around the media's supposed loss of advertising revenue to US tech firms.

So Facebook's pulled out of Oz, and if you thought the news feed was bad before wait until you see it with legitimate news sources removed. Some non-news organisations have been blocked too, including Facebook's own account. Funny, and worth mentioning.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Google's struck a deal with News Corp. It is still threatening to pull its search engine from the country, but in striking a deal with one of the nation's biggest publishers, it is seeking to shift the narrative.

2020 started with Australia on fire and we know how that year turned out. 2021's kicked off with Oz taking it to tech giants, and that's a theme that will spread too.

Meanwhile, in Poland, the press had a blackout day to protest the government's attempts to tax their ads. It's been described as an attempt to undermine press freedom. While some governments look to shakedown hugely profitable tech giants, others are looking to squeeze the press.

One way or another, regulation is coming.

What's next after keyword blocking?

There are many conflicts at the heart of the brand safety debate, especially around the tech doing the heavy lifting. I spoke to experts, including Claire Atkin, co-founder of consultancy Check My Ads, about the next wave of concerns following the keyword blocking scandal. We've just scratched the surface of the problem.

Do the tools work? Do we need the tools? Do we even agree on what safety is? Why are advertisers scared of the news? These were some of the questions that cropped up. But what's clear is that marketers need to do a better job of tracking where their ads are distributed. They need to realise they their media buys are an element of their societal footprint. And maybe, just maybe, they need to stop assuming their tools work perfectly out of the box.

Read it here.

Ad accessibility

I don't really like ads.

I like complaining about ads.

And I like studying ads.

And I like talking to people who make and distribute ads.

But ads interrupt and annoy me.

Yet this story reminded me that even being annoyed by ads is a privilege. At the Super Bowl, Tide Detergent ran a descriptive video to ensure its spot could be enjoyed by the blind and visually impaired community.

It's a big deal and hopefully, we see more seriously consider this approach. Tide talked us through the process.

Homeless, not hopeless

Street magazine The Big Issue naturally had to reinvent itself last year in lockdown. Sales moved into retail and vendors received smartphones and a card machine to avoid cash. Now it is using LinkedIn to drive its ‘Raising Profiles’ campaign to connect its vendors with customers.

FCB Inferno’s associate creative director Jessica Giles explained how 10 vendors are taking part in the trial. Read it here.

Social media weirdness

I think the lockdown is getting to marketing Twitter. Social has been weirder. Right?

Helen Gradwell, senior creative at Tangerine, explained why she and many other seemingly normal, stable professionals, were pouring beans on things.

Then a really good (but fake) KitKat ad did the rounds. Sam Hennig, a creative strategist at Something Big, told us how his clever work went viral and basically upturned his life for a week.

No Return

James Chandler, chief marketing officer of the IAB UK, laid down how ad tech will not be returning to normal. He reflected on the demise of the third party cookie, new measurement capabilities, and urged a move away from "rudimentary vanity metrics".

Other Stuff

That's all for this week. If you missed the last issue, read it here. And you can subscribe to our other briefings here.

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