IPG Mediabrands’ reveals latest ‘Media Responsibility Index’

Media Responsibility principles officially adopted by the 4As and media responsibility index endorsed by the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), Continuing the Initiative’s Success.

IPG Mediabrands released its latest Media Responsibility Index, a quantitative report that strives to raise industry standards around brand safety and media responsibility in advertising. This latest Index, led by Mediabrands agency Reprise and based on a 2H 2020 assessment, found that top social platforms’ adherence to media responsibility has improved significantly across nearly all 10 Media Responsibility Principles (MRPs), with platforms delivering an average lift of 11 percentage points across the assessment. The largest increases were seen in the agency network’s Promote Respect and Accountability principles, as well as many platforms improving their efforts to reduce hate speech and misinformation/disinformation. As further confirmation of the need for a common set of standards, the Mediabrands MRPs have officially been adopted by the 4As and the Index has been endorsed by the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), the leading global industry body on media responsibility governance.

“We created the Media Responsibility Index with the belief that social platforms would welcome our Index as a helpful tool, rather than being perceived as another ranking. This current Index shows that the platforms heard our call to action and moved swiftly to work together to be better and contribute to a more positive future for advertising and our world,” said Elijah Harris, global head of social, Mediabrands’ agency Reprise. “As an agency partner to both platforms and brands, we have a unique opportunity to provide data and insights that empower the larger industry to look out for one another when it comes to the communities a brand serves and the content they see.”

This latest iteration of the Media Responsibility Index comes on the heels of the 1H 2020 Media Responsibility assessment that was issued last August, as the first-of-its-kind assessment on Media Responsibility in the advertising industry. The platforms invited to participate – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube – encompass the majority of users globally who are active in a social media community. Each platform was scored against key dimensions that provide deeper contextual insights across MRP reporting, and the insights were gathered throughout Q3 2020. And, the current Media Responsibility Index reveals that these platforms are seeing the need to improve their media responsibility efforts in order to protect the communities they serve, as well as take accountability for their actions.

Our Media Responsibility Principles are designed to be a guiding way forward for the industry. In light of ongoing broader conversations around social media and its role in society, it is encouraging that the latest Index indicates improvements by Reddit, Snap, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube against the Promote Respect principle, as well as movement by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter on the principle of No Mis/Disinformation.

Key findings of the Media Responsibility Index include:

  • The platforms with the most gaps with MRP in 1H 2020 had the greatest opportunity to improve and have – most notably, TikTok: TikTok was the most improved platform since the previous Index. As TikTok’s growth surged in 2020, the platform demonstrated an ability to take a forward-looking approach to building its platform with the Index’s key principles in mind, and 2H 2020 assessment results reflect a marked pivot toward enhanced third-party brand safety partnerships. The latest Index results newly introduce TikTok’s increased focus on principle 3: Diverse and Representative — a principle they were not able to provide substantial public data for in 1H 2020. TikTok also saw substantial shifts in their third-party brand safety partnerships and policy enforcement approaches.
  • All platforms took meaningful steps forward in policy enforcement: Misinformation, Election Integrity and Health emerge as major themes where platforms stepped up to the plate. In the battle against misinformation, platforms did the advance work to ensure their policies were transparent, principle-based and enforceable in a consistent manner by leveraging controls and features that felt native to each platform, all while contentious broader public discourse continued and sizable portions of the U.S. still challenged the election results.
  • Enabling more control over Feed environments and UGC is a goal of many platforms: We engaged with platforms about their approach to and products under development to answer for this demand. At the time surveyed, Snap and YouTube shared that they expect further improvements to UGC controls in early 2021, and other platforms committed to paying more attention to putting into effect more UGC controls and tools for 2021.
  • Platforms generally want to do better and are committed to media responsibility: All of the platforms voluntarily participated in the assessment and expressed continued interest in ongoing collaborative efforts and solutions for the industry. And, each platform made significant strides and demonstrated minor to considerable individual improvement throughout the year.
  • Applying pressure and creating a culture of accountability works, but there’s more work to do: While the scrutiny these platforms face may sometimes seem insurmountable, events throughout the past year have proven that holding partners accountable in the stratum of media responsibility can yield positive results. Consumers, advertisers and regulators alike have advocated for more leverage and transparency in their transactions with many large social platforms. The latest results indicate that while platform improvements and enhancements have been made, many stakeholders are still seeking additional leverage and transparency to align marketing efforts with media principles.

“The 4A’s and its Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB) continue to support the application of the Media Responsibility Principles and applauds the impact as measured through the Index that the efforts of Mediabrands and the broader industry have had to ensure a safer and more responsible ecosystem for advertisers and more importantly, consumers,” said Marla Kaplowitz, President and CEO, 4A’s.

“It goes without saying that our Media Responsibility efforts, which were the first in our industry, have made a significant impact on how the platforms are operating,” said Joshua Lowcock, chief digital officer, UM, and Global Brand Safety Officer, Mediabrands. “The fact that we have the support of the 4As and other industry bodies, shows that Mediabrands is at the forefront of advancing policy on media responsibility and brand safety in order to protect our society from harm.”

“Our clients increasingly look to both protect their brands and for our support in ensuring responsible placements for their investments.” said James Dutton, Regional Digital Director MENAT, UM “We work closely with our EMEA and Global counterparts to ensure that the Media Responsibility findings are translated into MENAT regional specific solutions and recommendations for clients.”

“Being in the forefront in the field of responsible media placements is key to instil confidence across our clients. It empowers the necessary stakeholders to appreciate the current challenges and for us to propose effective solutions that in turn become global best practices” said Santadip Roy, Regional Digital Director MENA, Initiative and Magna.

“By streamlining and actioning our best practices in collaboration with our media agencies, we are able to strengthen our planning strategies and optimize brand safety and biddable media effectiveness“ said Gosia Wajchert, Matterkind Lead MENAT.

Platforms were required to provide information touching on the MRPs, broken down by the five key dimensions of: Policy, Enforcement, Advertising Controls, User Controls, and Reporting. Scores were compared to provide analysis around how platforms are acting on and evolving towards the principles. Notably, the Index has added Key Themes as part of the assessment moving forward, as well as a Dimensions category.