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Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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256 TRENDING misleading news. These brands have unwittingly contributed to the fake news sites that, in some cases, are generating tens of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue from their online ad sales. Stories like these have become increasingly com- mon as the large ad tech companies struggle to crack down on the fraudulent sites. Aside from the concern that brands' reputations are at stake if their ads appear next to fake content, a more pertinent issue is that advertisers are perceived to be propping up the sites that make money from peddling fake news. That's why the advertising industry is increasingly under pressure to do its part to help end the raft of fake news sites ap- pearing online. Both Google and Facebook have introduced tools to stem the spread of false information and minimize the chances of advertising appearing next to inappropriate content. For example, according to an article in The Guardian, advertisers are being provided with tools that exclude certain sites from all of their campaigns, as well as fine-tuned controls for when they need to be more specific about where their ads appear. However, there is evidence that these are not 100 percent effective. And industry insiders say that advertisers have been partially culpable for the growth in fake news, as many have turned a blind eye to where their ads are appearing, preferring to focus on scale rather than brand message. Jarrod Dicker, Head of Commercial Product and Technology at The Washington Post, says that advertisers have focused too much on reaching viewers at scale, which has resulted in a "blindness." "The industry has been ob- sessed with data, scale, and targeting, and became too focused on ROI and performance, and stopped paying attention to where their ads were running," he says. Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), has acknowledged the role that brands and agencies have played in fueling fake news. Although, in a recent speech, he said that everyone in the supply chain is morally respon- sible. "It is the marketers pressing for billions of additional impressions at unsustainably low prices; the agencies pressuring the publishers for more and more free "added values"; the publishers so desperate for revenue that they run ads disguised as news and source "audience extensions" on unsavory sites; and the tech companies whose algorithms drive consumers to deceitful content," said Rothenberg. But all is not lost. Some of the world's leading brands are fighting back. Vodafone, which spends close to half of its annual global ad budget on digital ads, announced in July that it is introducing measures to prevent its advertising from appearing on fake news and hate speech sites. The global telecom company is setting up an ap- proved "white list" of sites, in conjunction with Google, Facebook, and agencies, on which it will allow its ads to run. The white list will feature sites identified as "highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content" and will be compiled by humans using editorial judgment, as the firm acknowledges it is not possible to rely solely on al- gorithms. As Vodafone's Chief Executive Vittorio Colao told The Guardian, "We will not tolerate our brand being associated with abusive and damaging content." Last year Fiat Chrysler implemented similar software that would automatically block its ads from appearing on sites that contain hate speech or adult content. Like Vodafone, it compiled its "blacklist" by going through fake news sites one by one, as it said there was no true filter technology that could currently do that job. Although brands and advertisers have contributed to the perpetual nature of fake news, they cannot solve this issue alone. Dicker believes that the media industry as a whole must come together to focus on fixing the issues rather than contributing to them. Rothenberg agrees. "In a multidimensional industry that can invest untold billions on driverless cars, Mars missions, Super Bowl ads, next season's prime-time line-up, and the acquisition of hot programmatic start- ups, surely we can fix fake news first," he says. • "In a multidimensional industry that can invest untold billions on driverless cars, Mars missions, Super Bowl ads, next season's prime-time line-up, and the acquisition of hot programmatic start-ups, surely we can fix fake news first."

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