DIGITAL’S DARK SIDE & SAFER MEDIA

Most digital venues are walking around with their heads down these days.  And for good reason. Make that plural. Reasons. Offensive videos, inaccurate measures of audience, less-than-transparent standards around the use of influencers, bots, and social-media accounts, to name a few.

P&G’s Chief Brand Officer made headlines recently for urging advertisers to demand better quality of content and audience measurement from media outlets.  Perhaps a specific standard of measurement that would take into account viewing across multiple media platforms, such as a digital “tag” that could be placed on all ads, for all formats, across digital and TV, to control ad frequency.

He’s not the only one asking for the media industry to enforce higher standards.

If it’s true that seven out of 10 consumers are saying ads are annoying, and that ad blocking is accelerating and privacy breaches and consumer data misuse keeps occurring, what can be done to stop it?

Especially when digital platforms were originally built for freedom of expression – not a soap box to run ads on in the first place.

Is there an “authenticity check” of some kind that can be used when dealing with social-media personalities, bloggers, and vloggers?  Big advertisers would like to see one.  Not to mention a way to measure the audience.

But when you look around, it’s quite amazing that there are actually very few universal standards of measurement that exist.

The same is true of content monitoring.  Disney CEO Bob Iger recently called social media “the most powerful marketing tool an extremist could ever hope for, because by design social media reflects a narrow world view filtering out anything that challenges our beliefs while constantly validating our convictions and amplifying our deepest fears.”

Scary stuff from The Happiest Place On Earth.

The message is simple.  Clean up the platforms for brand safety, or the advertisers will simply create their own, free of fraud, waste or objectionable content.  And when you spend $7 billion a year on ads, you can actually follow through on “charting the course for a different way,” as Marc Pritchard said.

Personally, I’m all for it.  Every creative organization thrives on embracing new systems when it comes to the media supply chain anyway.  And while you’re suiting up, if you can fend off the persistent “dark side” within the current ecosystem at the same time, well, that’s a bonus.  Hard to argue against quality civility, transparency and privacy.  

In other words, walk towards the light!

Mark Smith is the Chief Creative Officer and Chief Storyteller for Upstream 360, as well as the father of a teenage daughter.  He stays motivated by the twin powers of doubt and insecurity, while his approach to the work is making it legitimately interesting, shareable, and something people can connect with. 

Mark is also an author of the book Innovation Myths and Mythstakes, available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle and coming soon on Audible.