The importance of web standards to brand safety | M&M Global

The importance of web standards to brand safety

GroupM held a breakfast briefing last week to discuss brand safety in the British advertising industry, with contributions from representatives of JICWEBS, ISBA, IPA and IAB UK.


The discussion was led by GroupM digital operations director Bethan Crockett, who explained that the issue of brand safety never really goes away when organisations are already committed to digital spend.

Richard Foan, chair of the Joint Industry Committee for Web Safety (JICWEBS), explained how the limited company’s purpose is to deliver trust in the digital ad trading market, funnelled from digital trading standards group the viewability working group and the anti-fraud working group.

Foan stressed the importance of “realism over idealism”, discussing the work of the Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG), the ‘Content Verification’ Certification Programme. He also reinforced that transparency builds trust and the significance of global standards for local markets.

ISBA director of media and advertising Mark Finney stated that brand safety is not a new concern, it has just got more complicated with the advent of digital trading, citing examples of badly positioned ads with conflicting messages.



IPA digital consultant Nigel Gwilliam commented that “solutions are quite gritty” and that it’s “hard to get people motivated when they haven’t suffered”, while IAB director of data and industry programmes Steve Chester talked further about the misconceptions in the industry.

“I think as an industry we have to get smarter and work harder and I think JICWEBS will spearhead this,” he added, encouraging companies to invest more as an industry.

Crockett summarised the GroupM UK Brand Safety Policy in five steps: Trading, Contracts, Technology, Operations and Industry Accreditation.

“Even five years ago amount of money at risk was a lot smaller,” said Foan. “As money at risk grows, accountability grows across the whole system.”

Finney felt that not enough brands are pushing the agenda. “Some have spoken out and said marketers need to get more involved,” he added. “Many won’t take it seriously until it happens to them and they’re on the sharp end of it, you have to remind people things can go wrong.”

Finney thought the UK was ahead of any other market, having seen other markets following the JICWEBS model. “Brands need to be familiar with what JICWEBS does and encourage trading partners to get that seal of approval.”

Concluding the discussion, the group summarised that publishers are a weak link and need to step up and use machine learning to intelligently deduce if something has been misplaced, while reinforcing the need for a core bassline standard in the industry.

Anna Dobbie


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