The Last Word: September

September saw a number of big-name brands stand up for diversity in advertising, alongside increasing pressure from lawmakers and regulators to call out industry bad practice and lack of transparency. Here’s our second monthly round-up of the ethical adtech stories from the past month that you need to know about.

Stat of the month

In a signal of things to come, MediaCom’s latest Connected Kids report revealed that unethical brands are at risk of alienating a whole generation. More than half (54%) of UK teens aged 16 and over have deliberately purchased, or deliberately stopped using a certain brand, because of its ethics.

The report, based on a significant sample of 8–19 year olds across the UK, found that 63% said they were more likely to buy from a brand if it supported a charity or a cause that is important to them. Even if they’re not actively buying from a brand, the majority of UK teens expect brands to be morally conscious, with as many as 85% saying that brands should be held responsible for minimising their impact on the environment. If you aren’t planning for reaching this next generation of buying decision-makers, you’re already behind.

#1 The tech stack race continued at DMEXCO 2018

Thousands of digital media professionals attended the annual event in Cologne last month to discover the latest innovations and discuss the industry state of play. A number of high profile deals were closed in the run up to, and at the event itself, including Deloitte’s purchase of Magnetic Media’s AI platform; Singtel-backed Amobee closing its $100 million acquisition of Videology; and media agency Mediasmith’s ownership buyout by its management team, with a goal to grow its consulting arm as more clients make buys in-house.

In-housing and data control are, unsurprisingly, at the top of the agenda for advertisers, but they’re still grappling with the right approach. As company ethics and transparency come under closer scrutiny, more and more media agencies are looking to tech-driven solutions to ensure their customers’ data remains secure.

#2 #TogetherAgainstHate: Channel 4 tackles abuse aimed at actors in diversity ads

Channel 4 has partnered with Nationwide, Maltesers and McCain to made a stand against the hateful language directed towards diverse actors featuring in its adverts. The TV channel gathered some of the toxic responses to each ad to underline the work that needs to be done to tackle hate, and showcased them in a powerful film which was aired during the return of reality programme, Gogglebox.

The campaign hopes to highlight the importance of breaking away from homogeneity in advertising — a critical issue at the creative heart of the ad industry. Channel 4 encouraged viewers to stand #TogetherAgainstHate, and to visit the following website for further information: www.channel4.com/TogetherAgainstHate

#3 FBI piles more pressure on ad industry’s media-buying practices

Investigations into the ad industry’s media buying practices continue after federal prosecutors in Manhattan have begun issuing subpoenas as part of the probe, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal.

The investigations are looking into none-transparent ad-buying practices, such as agencies receiving rebates from media outlets. It seems this is an issue likely to linger for some time — and as one commentator put it: “an official FBI report could put the entire industry on its heels for years.” Let’s hope any investigation helps the industry move forwards in a more positive, transparent way that benefits everyone.