4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau Publishes Cross-Industry Call to Action on Brand Suitability

Update to this bulletin and attached documents.

For many of us we know that words matter – at their best they can inspire better actions, and at their worst they can cause harm and incite violence.

For this reason we are asking all members effective immediately to cease the use of loaded terms used by the industry blacklist and whitelist. While we assume that there wasn’t negative intent in the creation of these terms, we have to acknowledge they are wrong to use in the biases they perpetuate and the pain – conscious and unconscious – they cause.

Our request is simple:
1. Change the narrative: Refer to content and sites you want included in your campaigns as Inclusion Lists, and conversely content and sites you want eliminated in your campaigns as Exclusion Lists
2. Activate your network: As leaders and representing your organizations, please cascade this shift and politely call out the conscious shift when you see others not doing it
3. Embed it in your operations: Update all operating documents and especially contracts between marketers, agencies, platforms, and technology partners to reflect this shift

We need to undertake all viable actions to chase out bias and create safety for all.


APB finds trusted news publishers to be brand-safe and establishes guidelines and standards for brand suitability in news


APRIL 6, 2020 —The 4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB) today released “Cross-Industry Collaboration to Redefine Brand Suitability in Trusted News Environments: A Call to Action,” a cross-industry position paper calling on all parties to restore a vibrant, healthy ecosystem for publishers and advertisers alike, as part of its ongoing efforts to support brand safety and combat unsuitable brand content.

Based on a series of analyses by the 4A’s, and with the support and participation of publishers, tech providers, and agencies, “Cross-Industry Collaboration to Redefine Brand Suitability in Trusted News Environments” demonstrates the shortcomings of existing protocols and suggests pragmatic short-term measures to address these issues.

The position paper reveals a wide range of opinions among agencies, brands, publishers, and verification providers on how to define and promote safe and suitable content.

“We’re at a crossroads where we need to educate the advertising ecosystem to use suitability controls versus safety controls in the news,” said Yale Cohen, EVP–Global Activation Standards, Publicis Media. “With 90% of people responding favorably or neutrally when ad adjacencies appear next to serious content like COVID-19, the APB’s call to action on brand suitability comes at a critical time—supporting new advertising vehicles and streams for publishers that can help share information for the good of consumers, while also elevating responsible controls for agencies and marketers to make informed decisions in the news space.”

“Brand safety is one of our industry’s most important prerogatives—providing the marketing community with the protection it needs to conduct and transact business,” said Bill Tucker, Group EVP at the Association of National Advertisers. “The Advertiser Protection Bureau has done a remarkable job at improving the industry’s brand safety protocols and advancing our confidence to build brands while smartly working with the Media Rating Council and IAB Tech Lab to deliver improved safety and suitability in news.”

Among the paper’s highlights:

  • The overwhelming majority of news content is brand safe—if not necessarily suitable—for brands and advertisers.
  • Large, wide-ranging blacklists are both excessive and infrequently updated, and often counterproductive in that they omit the very hard-to-reach and engaged audiences that advertisers desire.
  • Brand-suitability parameters and risk tolerances should be regularly updated and evaluated based on real-time criteria.

“It’s our hope that the release of this paper will be the first step towards a fairer, more accurate assessment of brand-suitable news content and a more economically robust and viable business model for publishers,” said Marla Kaplowitz, President & CEO of the 4A’s. “Advertisers, agencies, publishers, and tech providers all share an interest in supporting a brand-suitable environment, and they each share a common responsibility for advancing this effort.”

“Bringing buyers, sellers, and tech companies together to unpack this problem has demonstrated just how big the opportunity is for brands and publishers alike,” said David Kohl, President & CEO of TRUSTX. “News is overwhelmingly brand-safe, and we’re seeing more clearly how advertisers can unlock the value of professional news media without compromising on brand suitability. We are just at the beginning.”

Learn more about the 4A’s and the Advertiser Protection Bureau.

Contact [email protected] for more information.


Download 4A's APB Cross-Industry Collaboration to Redefine Brand Suitability in Trusted News Environments 07,2020