4A’s and Holding Companies Executives Form Advertiser Protection Bureau to Tackle Brand Safety

Marla Kaplowitz announced the formation of APB in Accelerate

Matthew Harrington, global chief operating officer, Edelman speaks on a panel about brand safety at the 4A's Accelerate conference in Miami, Fla. Erik Oster, 4A's
Headshot of Erik Oster

The 4A’s announced today the Accelerate conference in Miami the formation of the Advertiser Protection Bureau, with several holding company executives serving as founding members.

“There has been a lot of discussion around brand safety,” 4A’s president and CEO Marla Kaplowitz said in a statement. “What’s unique about Advertising Assurance is that it evolves that discussion to a more holistic view of what our responsibility is to consumers, to brands and to each other because advertising assurance can’t happen if we’re not communicating with each other and working together.”

The bureau is devoted to sharing a collective responsibility for brand safety in providing “advertising assurance,” which 4A’s executive vice president, media Louis Jones defines as “the idea that we needed to refocus the conversation to be about brand safety for the brands and consumer safety for the consumers.”

Each holding company, as well as Horizon Media has committed to having a brand safety leader within their network serve on the bureau, with executives from Dentsu Aegis Network, GroupM, Havas Media, Horizon Media, IPG Mediabrands, MDC Partners, Omnicom Media Group and Publicis Media among the founding members of the APB. The APB allows agency groups to work together to identify and brand ads in potentially unsafe environments, which it calls brand safety incidences.

“I think brand safety blew up and cropped up in different places at different times at different levels of concern for different advertisers. Agencies were just trying to deal with what was cropping up,” Jones told Adweek. “I don’t think all the agencies had been in a room where they could talk about what their frustrations were around brand safety so we provided that platform for them.”

The initiative grew out of the 4A’s closed-door Advertising Assurance Forum on March 19 and two follow-up meetings.

“You don’t always know when you’re going to run into a brand safety problem,” Jones said. “The idea is when people see stuff and intuitively they know it’s wrong, to let someone know. It’s really a low-tech solution that brings all the agencies together to protect all the brands that they serve.”

Onstage at the 4A’s conference, Kaplowitz outlined further initiatives, including a risk management module and a code of decency.

The risk management module will provide a spectrum for agencies, advertisers, publishers and platforms to measure advertisers’ appetite for brand risk. For a code of decency, the 4A’s plans to establish ground rules within the Media Rating Council’s brand safety guidelines, which are currently being drafted.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.