It was a one-two wake-up call at last month’s Interactive Advertising Bureau Annual Leadership Meeting, almost on cue with my previous blog post, “Living With (and Working Against) Fake News.”
Two industry leaders making powerful statements and asking us to clean up how people experience ads and, going further, to make sure those ads don’t finance questionable content or falsehoods online. Brand storytelling has no place in fake news.
First, we had brand leader Mark Pritchard of Procter & Gamble laying out new requirements for its agencies in 2017 in a push to create “better” ads and media transparency. Among them:
- Adopt one viewability standard for online ads. P&G is embracing that of the Media Rating Council.
- Find an accredited third party to verify ad measurement verification — again, P&G advocates Media Rating Council accreditation toward this purpose.
- Prevent ad fraud and click fraud by getting its online advertising supply chain Trustworthy Accountability Group certified.
- Vote for this cleanup with ad spend — give business to those agencies, ad tech and publishers that do the necessary work to keep digital advertising clean and transparent.
Then we had Randall Rothenberg, IAB’s chief executive, who I’ve long regarded as one of the most articulate, forceful and learned voices in our field, who laid it on the line:
“We have confronted the terrifying realization that facts and truth — and the time-honored processes for establishing them — can be turned into relativistic commodities, undermining the will of our citizenry and the ability of our leaders to make the world a better place.
As an industry, it is our obligation to again step up. But this time, our goal cannot be merely to fix our supply chain. Our objective isn’t to preserve marketing and advertising. When all information becomes suspect — when it’s not just an ad impression that may be fraudulent, but the data, news and science that undergird society itself — then we must take civic responsibility for our effect on the world.”
Rothenberg echoed Pritchard’s call to get on board with industry standards — and went one step further, with a prescription:
“Get yourself out of the fake anything business … This is not difficult. Simply ask your finance department to create a list of all your customer payables. Then commission a team to review the list to determine who your customers actually are, and what they do for a living. If they’re engaged in child porn or distributing pirated movies or generating neo-Nazi propaganda, or anything else you wouldn’t want your parents, spouses, neighbors or children to know about, then stop doing business with them … And once you’ve reviewed and cleared your customers, do the same thing with your suppliers.”
Well said — let’s fix things fast.