First UK advertisers issued with 'brand safety' badges

Out-Law News | 01 May 2014 | 3:17 pm | 1 min. read

Ten UK advertising companies have been given the right to display a symbol denoting that they have met industry-led standards designed to protect brands against the risks posed of their adverts appearing alongside inappropriate or illegal content on the internet.

The badges are the first issued by the UK's Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS), which defines best practice and standards for online ad trading.

JICWEBS is made up of trade bodies that include the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK, the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA). Late last year those bodies announced that they had developed a number of new 'good practice principles' which companies could obtain certification of compliance with upon independent verification.

The principles require transactions between buyers and sellers of online ads to be governed by a specific agreement or wider contract. Those documents must specify where advertising should or should not appear. The contracting parties can make use of a independently-certified tools for assessing content or draw up a list of content themselves that it is either appropriate or inappropriate to place ads next to.

Website operators and other sellers of advertising space have to go to "reasonable endeavours" to "minimise the risk of ad misplacement" and will be required to "respondent appropriately" via a procedure for removing ads where they have been found to have been misplaced, according to the new principles.

The ad misplacement minimisation policies of each signatory to the principles are subject to independent verification within set timescales under the voluntary regime.  Compliance with the principles is verified by an auditor and those 'verification providers' issue certificates of compliance to those businesses that adhere to the framework.

Among the first 10 businesses to be issued with the badges are Crimtan, Exponential Interactive and Vibrant Media. Microsoft and Yahoo! are among a group of seven other businesses that have signalled their intention to put their ad misplacement policies forward for scrutiny in the coming months with a view to obtaining certification of compliance with the principles.

"As the ad buying process shifts towards using automated decision-making, advertisers and agencies have placed increased focus on ensuring that their online reputation is maintained by ensuring that their adverts don't appear against inappropriate content," a statement issued by JICWEBS said. "[This] is the culmination of an unprecedented level of cross industry collaboration to deliver a set of straightforward and workable best practice principles that meet the needs of all sides of the industry."

Editor's note 14.5.14: this story previously referred to the badges as 'kitemarks', as JICWEBS had. The British Standards Institute (BSI) pointed out that 'kitemark' is a trade mark which it owns, and that it has not endorsed JICWEBS' scheme. We are happy to correct this and remove reference to 'kitemark'.