Lord Michael Grade

Lord Grade – advertisers need to stay alert to the impact of online harms

Published: 8 February 2024
Last updated: 8 February 2024

Earlier today Ofcom Chair Lord Grade spoke at the Advertising Association LEAD Conference, where he highlighted how advertisers should consider the impact of online harms on their reputations and on the wider advertising sector.

Here is a selected passage from his speech.

“We all know the wonderful benefits that online advertising provides. Equally, we know aspects of the market need improving. Too often, transparency or accountability are lacking in the supply chain. Illegal adverts, fraud and hateful content threaten to damage the reputation of the sector and everyone in it. Tech firms are making decisions now about their investment in trust and safety. Those who fail to invest may fail to comply.

“No advertiser wants their creative work, their voice to the consumer, their brand, to appear alongside toxic, dangerous or illegal content. I know how much you invest in your brand; and a brand is nothing without trust.

“So if you are a marketer with money to spend online; or if you are an agency planning and buying on behalf of clients; my message to you is this. Online safety is happening now, and you have a chance to play your part – by getting ahead of the harm.

“For brands and agencies, this is about making trust and safety a priority. Most of all, it’s about making sure the platforms you’re spending money on are aware of their new duties under the Online Safety Act. Are you sure your online ad spend isn’t damaging your valuable brands by being ‘algorithmed’ alongside harmful, horrible content? How good is your campaign monitoring at keeping you away from harmful content?

“Many of you are asking these questions already, and demanding answers. If not, now is the time. Advertisers have unique leverage in the fight against harmful content. But nobody wants to be reacting to a crisis, by which time the damage is done. Here is the chance to get ahead of the harm and inoculate your brands against the infective potential of online harm.”

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