What Is Ethical Advertising, and How Can You Deliver It Today?
In his keynote address during the Neustar 2021 Brave New Worlds summit this past November, GroupM Chief Investment Officer Matt Sweeney made it clear that his agency’s priority in 2022 is thoughtful, ethical advertising.
That means focusing not just on getting as many eyeballs on an ad as possible, but on advertising ethics, quality, and values. Over the course of his presentation, Sweeney shared many insightful recommendations for data and analytics professionals, but the following three really stood out:
Embrace ethical consumer data practices - The deprecation of the cookie has, in Sweeney’s words, “set off more panic than Y2K and the Popeyes chicken sandwich shortage combined.” But beyond the technical challenges, what ID deprecation is really doing is forcing every stakeholder in the industry to take consumer privacy and ethical advertising and marketing practices seriously. It's high time, too. All the top brands in the world want to make the most of data-driven marketing opportunities, but they don’t want to be perceived as privacy predators: “We are huge believers in adtech data and martech, but operating powerful applications without governance is a recipe for failure and abuse,” said Sweeney.
Partner with reputable publishers - “I've been so discouraged by what passes as quality content these days,” Sweeney said during his address. “Between biased news, deep-fakes, and just really horrible content, I've been astounded by some of the misinformation that people believe is fact.” The agency is taking big steps to monitor content and ethical issues for its clients, and reward thoughtful publishers that are producing quality content and taking the time to properly manage their communities. Contextual advertising is on the rise, but it won’t draw top budgets if brand safety remains an issue.
Champion purpose-driven investments - GroupM understands that consumers are more likely to connect with brands that share their values—whether those values relate to social causes, their customers’ health and wellbeing, or climate change. For many of its top clients, the agency favors digital billboards over physical billboards, for instance, and it sizes up the carbon footprint of all proposals before making a final decision. It also does pro-bono work to shed light on important issues. In today’s highly competitive environment, many brands don’t stick their neck out because they fear possible public relations backlash. But for GroupM and it clients, Sweeney believes success will come to “companies that have a keen understanding of their customers,” and that means understanding their infinitely diverse behaviors, values, and belief systems.
It’s not all pie-in-the-sky thinking. Thoughtful, ethical advertising is possible today thanks to robust data strategies grounded in unified identity, and cross-channel measurement capabilities like those offered within a unified analytics framework.