It is easy to evade our personal responsibilities for a plethora of reasons, but we cannot hide for long from the consequences of doing so. Inaction always catches up with us and it can often lead to demonstrable negative consequences. This is even more pertinent when responsibilities are work or industry-related and avoidance occurs at scale. Take the advertising industry as an example. Advertisers and agencies have a duty to ensure they are actively trying to stop advertising abuse. While no individual raindrop ever thought itself responsible for causing a flood, collective inaction has allowed such abuse to occur.
In response to this, the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) has been formed. Supported by ISBA, CAN is a voluntary coalition of over 30 organisations (and growing!) with a mission to stop advertising abuse. This is being done by highlighting the conscious choices that both advertisers and agencies can make to ensure good practice. CAN aims to enable ethics to catch up with the rapid technological advancements seen in all sectors of the advertising industry. These advancements mean that now more than ever, brands, agencies and AdTech vendors are perfectly positioned to effect positive change in the way they operate and produce content. Quite simply helping them to create communication that is better for all.
Merkle | Periscopix has been a core member, involved with CAN since its formation. It is working to further grow the network and support the overarching manifesto which focuses on tackling issues around unethical practice; ad-fraud, diversity, informed consent, hate speech, children’s wellbeing and fake news. It is committed to addressing these six pertinent areas within every agency brief, ensuring good practice from both clients and agencies alike.
- Multiple trusted studies from the last 4 years estimate that 8-30% of global digital ad spend is lost each year to Advertising Fraud, and Juniper Research predict that the market will lose up to $42 billion as a result of fraudulent activity by 2019, and $100 billion by 2023. By not taking action to limit this, we risk supporting Advertising Fraud that ultimately harms both brands and consumers alike.
- Studies have proven relationships between Diversity and financial performance. Companies with content and messaging founded heavily in promoting Diversity are known to attract a similarly diverse array of talent that helps their business to perform better. Our industry must create content as diverse as the society we serve, and our stories must be authentic, so that we can not only attract talent to our businesses, but also consumers.
- In anticipation of an industry-wide mindset shift where people take more control of their own online experience, Informed Consent will allow individuals to make a single decision about how their data is used. Facilitating this will not only pre-empt any potential consequences of ePrivacy legislation, but it will also allow us to demonstrate respect for people by engaging with them and promoting Informed Consent in the ‘value exchange’. In turn, we can truly effect a change to prevent people losing trust in brands, through providing high quality online experiences with robust data protection.
- The supporting of Hate Speech through advertising activity, even accidentally, is having a substantial impact: only 48% of millennials currently believe that businesses behave ethically, with just 47% believing that business leaders are committed to improving society. Brands that are perceived to be salient and differentiated in this area experience, on average, a 6% higher growth in value share versus brands low on meaning, difference, and salience.
- Fake News creates confusion that worries people and there is a widespread belief that bias, spin, and agendas are being used to push the selfish interests of powerful people and organisations. By funding key sources of Fake News through advertising, our industry may be somewhat responsible for only 25% of people believing social media outlets do a good job separating fact from fiction, and only 40% of people believing this for other news sources.
- When we consider that digital content is a well-known influencer of young minds, especially social media, we need to ensure that emotive issues like Children’s Wellbeing are met with responsible and authentic dialogue that extends far beyond just responsible content placement. We have a duty to ensure child protection and welfare is at the heart of our considerations, and our industry must learn from the past (e.g. as reported by the BBC).
By becoming a member of the Conscious Advertising Network, we are committed advocates of taking action against those who enable or indulge in ad-fraud, hate speech, and fake news. And we’re challenging industry leaders to really take note of – and action against - the important issues in diversity, informed consent, and in children’s wellbeing.
Further information can be found at www.consciousadnetwork.org.
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