Revcontent Pushing To Rid Industry Of Sexually Explicit Advertising

Search query results based on the keyword phrase “sexually explicit advertising” might surprise many, but not John Lemp, Revcontent’s chief executive officer and founder, who has been fighting to rid the digital advertising industry of this content for more than a year.

Revcontent has been working with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to rid the internet and publisher sites of inappropriate material that some categorize as sexually explicit.

“Sexual misconduct and exploitation is a massive problem this world faces daily,” Lemp wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily. “As a Christian and father of two young daughters, I was shocked by the number of stories that have been shared through the #metoo movement.”

Advertisers have been pushing boundaries for years -- for example, American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, PETA, Axe, Skechers, and Carl’s Junior, among others.

As Lemp became more aware of the link between sexually aggressive imagery and these issues, the company wanted to eliminate sexually explicit imagery, headlines, and landing pages, not only in its network but all across advertising.

One major challenge was defining acceptable and non-acceptable ads. Lemp said the company tried to determine this on their own, but quickly realized the need to rely on outside experts. Making those changes meant working to develop strict ad standards to eliminate sexual exploitation and objectification in advertising.

For Revcontent, the process began more than a year ago, but too many ads still appear across the web.

Despite Revcontent’s commitment to the cause, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation did not endorse the company’s efforts until it met all ad content expectations.

Revcontent’s machine learning and artificial intelligence platform, when combined with human reviewers, identifies and denies images cropped close to a women’s chest or shirtless men photos. The company did learn that certain images may be acceptable in some instances, but when used alongside specific headlines, the photo may take on a different connotation that is not acceptable.

“We are still working with the center as we identify content that could be considered questionable and defer to them on whether or not it should be considered acceptable,” Lemp wrote. “Now our job is to continue to effectively enforce the guidelines that the NCOSE helped us establish and to, hopefully, encourage others to implement similar standards.”

For Revcontent, the hope is that the company can help clean up the advertising industry and make publishers aware of the sexually explicit material running across their networks.  

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