Agencies, Clients and Publishers Talk Brand Safety and Consumer Trust at Cannes

As well as a new Edelman study

Consumers expect brands to lead the way in addressing privacy concerns. 4As

Earlier this week Edelman released the results of its Trust Barometer study at Cannes, which found consumer trust in social media channels eroding and that consumers placed a good deal of the responsibility on brands.

“I don’t think that today’s news on social channels was any new take in as much as it was an explanation of what lies beneath the surface that we all felt, but couldn’t necessarily explain,”4A’s executive vice president, media and data Louis Jones told Adweek.

Wednesday at the Cannes Lions festival, a panel discussed the study, its implications and other issues related to brand safety.

Jones explained one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that consumers are holding brands accountable for where their ads appear, not just publishers, and “consumers are commingling objectionable content with perceptions around not good use of data,” and are especially critical of brand safety mistakes if they’ve agreed to share private information.

“If I’m making my data available and still getting objectionable content, who’s missing what?” he said.

So far that hasn’t led to any exodus from social media platforms, however.

“The biggest takeaway for me was the disparity between what the research says consumers want–more data safety and privacy–and the actual actions of the consumer,” added Vice Media head of U.S. sales Dawn Williamson. “Nobody is taking a stand and deleting their platforms.”

The panel was moderated by Jones and included Williamson, GroupM global brand safety officer John Montgomery, Heineken global vice president, media Ron Amram, Grapeshot senior vice president, product strategy Andrew Smith and OpenSlate president Brian Quinn.

Jones told Adweek that brand safety is the responsibility of brands, platforms and agencies as “three legs of the stool.”

“There are things that can go wrong, different appetites for what different brands have comfort for in terms of content,” he said, adding that there needs to be a “finer focus on understanding response states of consumers in different environments … and figure out what’s right for what consumer in what context at what time. Context becomes really important here.”

Williamson added that media agencies have an important role to play in the process.

“Media agencies have the opportunity to be an ambassador not only on behalf of the clients, but also on behalf of publishers. They need to be a transparent representative, managing expectations, and delivering on promises,” she said. “And to state the obvious, all of that should ultimately be in service of agencies bringing enormous value to their clients by moving their business forward in ways they can impact, while maintaining clear accountability.”

Ultimately, Jones said, discussions such as the one at Cannes are important because they bring together different partners who play different roles to ensure brand safety.

4A’s launched the Advertisers Protection Bureau in April and the group continues to hold weekly discussions with partners around brand safety and how to improve the platform. Jones said agencies’ participation in the APB has exceeded his expectations. He explained that the group turned out its first brand safety alert on April 10 and its participants have continued to share incidents where brand safety appears to be compromised.

“The number of incidents has slowed,” he added, which he said was the “natural fallout of more people being on top of what these issues can be, including publishers finding and shutting things down right away.”

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.