Wouldn't it be great if digital ads had a kitemark? Well they do...

Wouldn't it be great if digital ads had a kitemark? Well they do...

Don't buy online ads through partners who aren't independently tested, warns Santander's chief marketing officer.

There has been a huge number of accusations flying around but the problem still remains – there are big issues facing online advertising, namely brand safety, fraud and viewability.

No one has escaped and every element in the chain has played a part in the mess we find ourselves in today.

Clearly some are more to blame than others with most of the ire being directed towards the jungle of intermediaries and to a lesser extent, the media owners. The media supply chain has an accountability for the product it’s been selling to advertisers and the recent revelation that brands have been inadvertently funding inappropriate content such hate speech has brought things to a head.

However, I for one, am glad to see that advertisers are starting to take more responsibility and ownership of protecting their investment in digital advertising. This is something I have been calling for for quite some time and I’ve consistently encouraged my team to work closely and collaboratively with our media supply chain, setting out the standards we expect from our media.

It has been extremely encouraging to see other brands, such as the likes of Procter & Gamble’s Mark Pritchard and Unilever’s Keith Weed, throwing their considerable influence into the debate and I certainly encourage other brands to do the same thing.

After all, what’s most likely to improve things is the behaviour of those who control the purse strings.

We can’t afford to sit idly by and hope others catch on. Advertisers are the key drivers in effecting change. Would YouTube’s considerable efforts to address the brand safety fears have been as concerted if brands hadn’t pulled or cut their ad spend from the platform? The answer is obvious.

Of course, we’re supportive of the work being done by the various trade bodies – from ISBA to the IAB through Jicwebs – to address these issues and build more trust, transparency and accountability. Increasingly, our marketing partners are also stepping up to the mark, and not before time.

I feel a key area to protecting our investment in digital is the third party certification system put in place by Jicwebs. For those of you who don’t know (and you should do by now) it’s the independent body that produces and promotes good practice and standards for online ad trading and is made up of the AOP, IAB, IPA and ISBA.

Santander, working with a number of big brands, has been part of the Jicwebs commercial working group tackling brand safety, fraud and visibility issues. Together we work to create a set of standards to reduce the risks posed by fraud or brand safety issues for advertisers. Jicwebs then independently reviews (through third party audits) media vendors and agencies against these standards, awarding certification for those who have delivered this transparency. This seal acts like a safety kitemark, meaning brands can buy with greater confidence that their investment is being protected. The system is in place and it’s a great first step – but now we need to build critical mass and drive progress across the industry to properly minimise the risks.

With the amount of money at stake, I strongly urge brands to demand that their trading partners become accredited with a Jicwebs seal. 35 companies have already got the new safety seal, a further two have the new fraud seal and a number of other companies have this process underway.

I’d argue it’s simply good business practice for media companies to sign up to this process and demonstrate their commitment to protecting their clients’ digital investment and it’s our responsibility as brands to demand that they do.

Keith Moor is chief marketing officer at Santander



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