Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

More education and an industry-wide approach is required to combat the negative effect fake news has on brands and brand safety in the digital environment. This was the conclusion a recent round-table discussion came to at an event hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on fake news and brand safety.

While fake news and brand safety have increasingly become an issue, both from an editorial and commercial standpoint, current solutions have resulted in companies working in silos to fight the threat. It was agreed that a single, industry-wide voice would be far more effective.

The big take-out: Fake news and brand safety are a real threat in the digital space. The industry needs to pull together to combat the challenge, with the IAB playing the role of independent industry regulator.

It was also suggested that information should be made accessible on the IAB SA website. It should contain details of experiences and perceptions that can be used as a point of reference to monitor brand safety. It was argued that this information could create a “manual” to be used by advertisers and brands as a source that represents the position on brand safety held by the IAB as an independent representative of the publishing industry.

Marc Du Plessis, head of the publisher council for the IAB, said there were a number of valuable takeouts from the event, including that the IAB would from now on embark on a process of verifying all its member publishers with a seal of approval. “This will provide comfort for advertisers, as they will know that when they invest in an IAB member brand, the safety of their brands will remain intact,” he says.

From a brand safety perspective, Du Plessis said the IAB must play a role in crediting agencies that focus on and acknowledge the importance of brand safety, together with the publishers who promote their credibility, and provide trustworthy and safe brand environments for their clients.

Quality, the panel agreed, needed to become a greater focus for both brands and advertisers. “More emphasis should be given to the environment or platform where brands are displayed, together with the quality of the click, instead of the click itself,” said Du Plessis, adding that the IAB, as an independent, objective body, was well positioned as a credible source to educate and drive this agenda.

The IAB has urged advertisers to consider the value and returns they receive from IAB publishers and brands. “IAB members are under pressure to secure digital budgets to remain sustainable and profitable. It’s becoming increasingly challenging because advertisers are spending large amounts of money with global players. However, there are significant benefits to localisation and customisation,” said Du Plessis.

“If brands are to support local publishers, it is up to the publishers to ensure that they themselves are credible sources of information. Again, this is a job for the industry at large to work on together, with the IAB providing the guidelines and criteria publishers must meet in order to be deemed credible,” he said.

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