A new body, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, aims to improve digital safety for internet users, at a time when consumers expect advertisers to be accountable for the content they appear alongside and brand safety is becoming professionalised.

The Alliance, founded by World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) members, has already recruited major advertisers including Adidas, Bayer, BP, Mastercard and Procter & Gamble. Agencies including Dentsu, Omnicom Media Group and GroupM have also joined.

Media companies and platforms to have joined include Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter and Verizon Media; supporting industry associations include the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Mobile Marketing Association, the Coalition for Better Ads, and the WFA.

“With almost 3.8 billion people now internet-connected globally, the increase in dangerous, hateful, disruptive and fake content online risks threatening our global community,” said the Alliance in a statement announcing its formation.

This is the first time an alliance of this kind, representing all sides of the media industry, has been formed, the WFA said. Its specific role will be to identify “collaborative actions, processes and protocols for protecting consumers and brands from safety issues”.

Members will work to identify ways to better protect consumers online, and work towards a “media environment where hate speech, bullying and disinformation is challenged, where personal data is protected, and used responsibly when given, and where everyone is, especially children, better protected online”.

Members say they all recognize the role advertisers play in driving improvements in online safety – and a new study has revealed that consumers believe advertisers should be held accountable for the credibility and the accuracy of the content around which they advertise.

Harris Poll and DoubleVerify research indicates the vast majority of US consumers are more likely to engage with brands that advertise alongside legitimate content and are less likely to engage when advertisers appear alongside “false, objectionable or inflammatory content”.

Similarly, two thirds of consumers say they would stop using a brand that appears alongside this kind of content.

And almost 90% of consumers feel that brands bear responsibility for making sure their digital ads run alongside accurate, safe and trustworthy content.

This all coincides with the Brand Safety Institute (BSI), which launched last summer, opening its doors yesterday to the ad industry’s first accreditation process for those executives who manage brand safety and related issues within their companies.

“Brand safety involves some of the most complicated and interwoven challenges in advertising, and the executives tackling those issues are ready to raise the bar by professionalising their field and giving their peers the skills and recognition they deserve,” said Mike Zaneis, Co-Founder of BSI and CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group.

Sourced from WFA, DoubleVerify, Brand Safety Institute; additional content by WARC staff