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Taking the brand safety agenda forward

WFA signs MoU on Online Advertising and Intellectual Property Rights

/ Introduction

Amongst the many challenges that advertisers are facing in the current online advertising market, brand safety, the issue of ads appearing next to inappropriate content, was the fastest escalating priority for 70% of WFA members’ in 2017.

Repeated scandals related to ads appearing on jihadi websites or next to pedo-pornographic content in the UK over the last 18 months have greatly contributed to escalating the issue. They have also shown that the risks go beyond potentially devastating negative impact on brand reputation and even put well-being and safety at risk.

But brand safety, from a brand owners’ perspective, is much broader than these individual, highly visible, cases. It also relates to ads harming society in other ways, such as advertising sustaining websites disseminating content infringing intellectual property rights or being placed next to ‘fake news’.

Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, made a broad announcement in February to say that Unilever would not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate. Unilever will prioritise investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.

Last week, WFA released its Global Media Charter, which lays out a framework setting out the changes that are needed, from a brand-owners’ point of view,  to make the digital eco-system sustainable. Brand safety is a cornerstone of this charter. It acknowledges advertisers’ role and commits us to avoiding the funding of actors inflicting harm on business and society, including those that misuse and infringe intellectual property laws.

Those are issues that also resonate with policymakers. In particular, the European Commission has been keen to address intellectual property rights infringements online by partnering with advertisers.

On June 25, we took this to the next level by signing alongside our advertiser associations in UK, Italy and Portugal- (ISBA, UPA and APAN) and a broad cross section of ad industry representatives, a Memorandum of Understanding on Online Advertising and Intellectual Property Rights. The document, which was co-drafted by WFA and driven by the European Commission, sets out a number of commitments for advertisers and advertising intermediaries to limit the placement of ads on websites disseminating IP infringing content.

We are delighted to have worked with Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market, and his team, on this important initiative. We hope that together we can advance the brand safety agenda to create a more trusted and brand safe online environment. Achieving brand safety online is going to be a long and difficult journey but this is another important step in the right direction.

Contact us

For more information or questions, please contact Erard Gilles

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