Marketers Call For Digital Ad Ecosystem Reform

There is continued unrest among marketers in context to the digital component of the overall marketing ecosystem. Marketers are demanding a system that works better for brands and consumers both. To address this, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has developed a Global Media Charter.

Consumer trust in online ads is at an all-time low, especially for online advertising, while ad blocking is growing 30 percent a year globally as per studies.

The charter sets out eight ‘Principles for Partnership’ for a balanced digital marketing ecosystem. It seeks to build on the concerns highlighted by the likes of Procter & Gamble and Unilever in the areas of transparency, brand safety, ad fraud and viewability by creating a framework that agencies, ad tech companies and media platforms should comply with if they want to secure advertising revenues in the future.

WFA has worked closely with marketers such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Mastercard and Diageo among others to recalibrate the relationships between the tripartite of client, agency and media owners, and create this charter.

“The digital ecosystem has grown so rapidly, it’s no wonder that it’s far from perfect. But the time for indulgence is over. The largest chunk of the world’s marketing budgets is now invested in digital platforms and advertisers have a right to demand that the money they invest can be clearly tracked and understood. It’s not just about budgets being well spent but also being reassured that brand and consumer interests are protected,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA.

The Eight Principles
Zero Tolerance To Ad Fraud & Compensation For Breach: A streamlined process to refund all media investments, including fees and commissions, found to be associated with invalid traffic and non-human impressions. Advertisers seek to use accredited third-party verification solutions to assess exposure to ad fraud.

Strict Brand Safety Protection: Advertisers require platforms and publishers to accept responsibility for the content carried on their sites and to employ comprehensive and rigorous safeguards on which accounts and channels can host paid advertising. Advertisers commit not to target media investment at content platforms that misuse and infringe IP laws or sites responsible for fake news content or disinformation.

Minimum Viewability Thresholds: Brands should be able to trade against the viewability level that is appropriate for their business including 100 percent in-view for full duration, if desired. Advertisers understand that higher viewability standards could impact on inventory supply and campaign reach.

Transparency Throughout Supply-chain: Complete transparency through the supply chain (digital or otherwise) covering pricing and trading, fees and costs, placement and data usage. Advertisers respect the right of partners to be profitable and commit to relevant and fair levels of remuneration for services rendered.

Third-party Verification & Measurement As Minimum Requirement: Self-reported data is unacceptable, and advertisers need third-party verification that inventory is viewable, fraud free, brand safe and on-target. Advertisers commit to prioritize third-party ad serving and verification companies who are audited and certified by the relevant industry-approved bodies.

Removal of ‘Walled Garden’ Issues: Data and technology should be unbundled, allowing advertisers to use the third-party buying platform of their choice in any and all environments. Publishers and platforms should work to create a solution that provides impression level data with spend tracking companies to enable brands to track media spend in their category and competitive set.

Improving Standards With Data Transparency: Data supply chain partners must uphold the same high standards outlined in the WFA’s Data Transparency Manifesto. Advertisers commit to working with partners to ensure data is ethically and transparently sourced as well as securely stored with appropriate assurance mechanisms, including audits. Data collection should be the minimum required to deliver a quality advertising experience.

Improve Consumer Experience: Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with ads that disrupt their experience, interrupt content, slow browsing or eat up their data allowances. Advertisers and platforms should design commercial communication opportunities so that they are less intrusive and offer a better user experience.

WFA, alongside the companies and advertiser associations who helped develop this charter, are calling on all players in the media value chain to work together to implement these eight principles.

Marketers Speak…
Ben Jankowski, Senior Vice President of Media at Mastercard and co-chair of WFA Media Forum said, “As the market continues to change quickly, global brands are being more tangible and specific about what we expect from the entire ecosystem; our tech partners, agency partners media owners and digital platforms. The WFA’s Global Media Charter is designed to ensure that everyone has the same common understanding of what we all need to do to thrive. Everyone should join us on this journey.”

“Whether it be viewability, measurement, ad fraud of brand safety, we must work collectively to drive quality and transparency for our consumers and ourselves as advertisers. The Global Media Charter builds on Unilever’s Responsibility Framework and is an essential step on the journey to a better digital ecosystem for the industry and society,” added Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever.

“The digital ecosystem is a minefield for consumers and brands, with the result that online advertising is less and less trusted by consumers and brands are often left questioning their investment strategies. It’s high time the industry as a whole drew a line in the sand and said enough is enough; things need to change and fast. The WFA Global Media Charter is critical in that it lists what brands need from their online partners so that the system can be sustainable. Put simply, it’s the only future for the online advertising ecosystem,” commented WFA President and RBS CMO, David Wheldon.

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