Gerhard Louw, senior manager, Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile’s International Media Management & Digital Transformation, WFA co-chair of the Media Forum, is quoted in the document: “We believe in the need to rebalance the industry around the principle of greater respect for all parties.”
That is a lofty aspiration in our broken-trust world. So what are the eight “commandments”?
Zero tolerance for ad fraud, with compensation for breaches.
2. Strict brand safety protection.
3. Minimum viewability thresholds.
4. Transparency throughout the supply chain.
5. Third-party verification and measurement.
6. Addressing walled-garden issues.
7. Improving standards with data transparency.
8. Improving the user experience.
These are all absolutely relevant and necessary topics to address.
“Why should brands pay for ad fraud breaches? Why should we support a flawed ecosystem?” asks Leana Less, vice president global connections and media, The Coca-Cola Company.
Adds Oliver Maletz, global head of communications and media, VW: “Current viewability standards are in no way sufficient. As advertisers, we should push hard for viewability guarantees with either returned investment or equivalent compensation units.”
And Jerry Daykin, head of global media partnerships at Diageo, says: “Behaviors which seek to limit the access of our technology or to withdraw our data are totally unacceptable. Rejecting third-party, impartial measurement standards is inadmissible.” (All quotes come from the WFA document).
I think at least all marketers can agree with these statements.
The challenge is that while the charter lays out clear principles and demands and clarifies which industry initiatives the WFA supports on each of these issues, it's unclear what happens if the rest of the industry does not play ball. Obviously, this charter indirectly also implicates the media supply side and the middle-men ecosystem, but fails to mention any sanctions or punishment.
This lack is probably expected from an industry body, here to try and coax the wider media industry partners into adoption, rather than to “shock and awe” partners into action.
Another concern is that the consumer comes last in the WFA document -- it's number eight on the list. I would have made this number one, because even with all the other issues resolved, if consumers don’t engage with the content they’re offered, there is no point in addressing viewability, for instance.
And, as we know, there are disturbing trends in consumer engagement with media. Trust in traditional news media is waning. Facebook engagement is slipping in developed nations. TV viewership continues to erode slowly. The press is struggling.
Perhaps the WFA should add a ninth commandment addressing the need for a diverse, trusted and commercially viable media ecosystem. Without that, we have no business, after all.