JICWEBS Town Hall 2019: How to be responsible!

We hosted our 2019 Town Hall meeting on 16th July at Google HQ in London.

The meeting was aimed at JICWEBS’ responsible officers and key contacts – people within our subscriber organisations who are responsible for the challenges we’re tackling – brand safety, ad fraud and viewability. We had a great turn out and were really pleased with how involved everyone was in the workshops and debates.

We kicked off with CEO Jules Kendrick outlining JICWEBS’ vision to increase trust and deliver greater transparency in digital advertising. She called for much stronger relationships with advertisers, trade bodies and government – as well as existing and new signatories – in order to deliver this. Crucially, we need to be able to show that as an industry we can be relied upon to be self-regulating, something that the next speaker, Ed Vaizey MP reinforced during a Q&A with Guy Philipson, JICWEBS Chairman.

Following the speakers, attendees were split into groups to workshop some of the key challenges facing digital advertising and feedback their ideas.

Ed Vaizey: Policy and tech can meet in the middle
Providing a government perspective, Ed Vaizey MP highlighted the need for communication between government and business. Serving as Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries from 2010-16, Vaizey was responsible for the introduction and roll-out of 4G and the UK rural Broadband programme, as well as tax credits for film, TV, animation and video games.

He urged that the divide between “tech evangelists and policymakers” be closed, arguing that these two groups need to meet in the middle. Discussing the Online Harms White Paper, Vaizey admitted the report was broad and generated lots of ‘what ifs?’ but highlighted how important it is to ask difficult questions, even if answers are less straightforward. He commended innovation in the industry by groups such as NewsGuard (Ed is on the Advisory Board), which is working to keep consumers and advertisers secure by identifying fake news. You can read more on Ed’s views as expressed at the Town Hall in an interview with Campaign here.

Speaking to the audience at the end of the session he said:

‘Government likes a legitimate trade body that speaks with one voice for the industry, and can become an expert witness to the Government. Good regulation helps your business – you need to be ahead of the curve, to tackle problems before they become headlines. Self-regulation can only be a good thing. If you’re not signed up with JICWEBS and following their standards – you should be’

Omnicom: Ensuring Brand Safety
Mia Mulch of Omnicom spoke about the importance of online brand safety and brand suitability, highlighting the difficulty of maintaining it in a business. The overwhelming agreement in the room to the question “Who here has ever had a brand safety issue?” emphasised just how pressing an issue this remains in digital advertising. The challenges faced are diverse and different brands require different solutions. Mia highlighted how essential it is that brands, publishers, tech providers and ad buyers work together, following the JICWEBS brand safety standards, to avoid harm to brands and ensure optimum campaign delivery.

Blockchain’s role in digital advertising
The Town Hall presentations were rounded off with more information on the DLT/Blockchain Pilot that JICWEBS is facilitating, including the announcement of the first participants – McDonald’s, Nestle and Virgin Media.

The pilot will evaluate how blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – can help to resolve the trust, transparency and inefficiency problems the digital advertising industry is facing.

The Town Hall was held in Google’s Central St Giles office, and we’d like to thank them for their kind support and generosity in hosting this event.

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