Storyful, Moat, CUNY Fight Fake News, Foster Brand Safety

With major platforms like Facebook and YouTube plagued by offensive and inappropriate content, brands are scrambling to ensure their messages only appear in suitable editorial contexts, creating an opportunity for advertising technology promising to deliver brand-safe placements.

Two ad tech firms, News Corp.’s Storyful and Moat, announced a partnership with the City University of New York to launch the Open Brand Safety database, which is intended to help brands avoid known publishers of offensive content.

The network launches with agency partners GroupM and Weber Shandwick; its organizers plan to partner with more ad and media firms.

Created in partnership with the CUNY School of Journalism, the OBS framework will maintain a database of video URLs and Web domains flagged for publishing fake news, extremist messages or other forms of unacceptable content.

The project will use algorithms created by the ad tech firms to identify both suitable and unsuitable content for brand marketers, accumulating a database of known bad actors which can be avoided in programmatic ad buys.

Weber Shandwick Chief Digital Officer Chris Perry stated: “Marketers are navigating more uncertainty and complexity than ever before, requiring new and innovative approaches to keep brands safe. We’re focused on helping companies protect their brand reputation and navigate the complex media and information landscape.”

Jeff Jarvis, director of CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center, highlighted the project’s advantages for legitimate publishers: “My long-term hope is Storyful and Moat will support a flight to quality, helping advertisers and platforms not only avoid fraudulent content but support credible and trustworthy media.”

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson has repeatedly taken Google and Facebook to task in recent months for their commodification of news and information, as well as their complacency regarding “fake news” and negligence when it comes to providing brand-safe environments for advertisers.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Thomson argued: “Together, the two most powerful news publishers in human history have created an ecosystem that is dysfunctional and socially destructive.”

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