Data ethics

This article is part of a series of articles on data ethics. Read more.

Need to know

  • Public consciousness about the role advertising plays in funding fake news, hate speech and endangering childrens' welfare is hitting a tipping point
  • CMOs from brands such as P&G, Unilever and Mars have appealed to the industry to ensure their adverts' do not appear next to unsavoury and questionable content that can cause demonstrable damage to brands over the long term and erode the already delicate levels of trust that exist between people and brands
  • While some CMOs are calling for better practice and taking affirmative action, more needs to be done. Advertisers must take a proactive stance in preventing online harms. The time for excuses and ostrich ‘head in the sand’ abdication of responsibility is over
  • Marketers have a moral obligation to ensure the digital environments they advertise on are forces for good, not violence
  • Brands can choose how to set an ethical agenda, and the power of their money can help shape the very creation of the next generation of whitelists, ad formats and tech platforms
  • The Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) was formed in 2018 to demand that ethics catch up with the technology of modern advertising
  • CAN’s six manifestos (outlined below) map out an ‘achievable leadership position’, by which the industry can collectively tackle the faults in the existing system and improve the value exchange between people, content, advertising and data
  • Advertisers have the power to request best practice in the way their advertising is produced and delivered, but they need to know the right questions to ask across a complicated supply chain
  • CAN want all brands to incorporate the principles of the manifestos into all agency briefs and RFPs this will ensure brands take every precaution to avoid bad environments and that they consider their wider impact on society as a whole
  • The checklist means every time the marketing team behind that brand briefs its agencies, they will be asking questions about child safety, hate speech and fake news
  • There are four critical upsides to consciously demanding an ethical framework in the advertising ecosystem: Clients’ budgets are spent on advertising to real humans, brand reputation will be enhanced, dangers of a PR disaster are minimised, and society will benefit

Brand reputation is under threat