How adtech helps advertisers use responsible media practices to deliver purpose-driven campaigns

March 3, 2022 | 5 minute read
Chase Mathew
Product Marketing Manager, Measurement
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Building a purpose-driven brand is a top priority for businesses today. Consumers are looking at far more than product characteristics and price when making a purchasing decision—they want to buy from brands that share their values. In fact, research shows that 62% of consumers expect brands to take a stand on social issues.

As a purpose-driven brand, it’s crucial that your advertising strategy mirrors your corporate values. By embracing ethical advertising practices and adopting responsible media practices, your company is actively demonstrating its commitment to the very values it—and your customers—hold most dear.

The challenge: supporting responsible media publishers while continuing to scale your advertising campaigns across multiple channels.

What is responsible media?

Before understanding how responsible media practices can positively impact your advertising strategy, it’s important to understand exactly what it means to adopt a responsible media strategy. At its core, responsible media refers to content that is not intentionally misleading, nor is it implicitly or explicitly adversarial.  

Responsible media is not exclusive to political or social issues. Instead, it is far-reaching in its coverage areas and can represent a variety of topics, including: 

  • Science
  • Human rights
  • Race and religion
  • Environment
  • Government policy
  • Free speech
  • Family
  • Wages and taxation

Responsible media practices are part of a broader conversation connected to ethical advertising initiatives, brand integrity, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Regardless of how it’s defined, the primary goals of a responsible media practice are threefold: disincentivize harmful content, amplify the brand’s values, and support the brand’s core purpose.

By adopting a responsible media strategy, advertisers ensure they are not supporting content that can harm their brands or promote false information to their audiences. Publishers who embrace responsible media strategies aim to align themselves with community, diversity, and social responsibility initiatives that are important to audiences and advertisers.

How responsible media can boost your advertising efforts

When looking at content consumption with a wide-angle lens, a responsible media strategy is clearly impactful, helping move important social issues forward.  But as an advertiser, you might be wondering, “Why is it important for my brand to embrace responsible media practices?”

 The reality is that we live in an era of radical visibility. Social media has given consumers the power to voice their opinions and beliefs on a far grander scale than ever before. Social movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter are a testament to the power of people using social platforms to make an impact and move the needle on social issues.

Not only are people using social platforms to voice their values, but they are also looking at how brands leverage their social accounts to do the same.

A recent study from Accenture revealed 53% of consumers who are disappointed with a brand’s words or actions on a social issue will let the brand know, typically by communicating with the brand on a social platform.

Yes, customers have always voiced their opinions, but now we have data to highlight what happens when a customer is dissatisfied with a brand experience. Studies show 47% of consumers will walk away in frustration and 17% never come back.

Consumers are inundated with product choices. To compete, brands must demonstrate that they stand for something bigger than what they sell. As mentioned earlier, 62% of customers say they fully expect their favorite brands to take a stand on the key issues that matter most to them.

Even more concerning, consumers often see inaction as an act of complicity—remaining silent on important issues is not an option for brands striving to connect with their audiences. This is why supporting responsible media initiatives is integral to a purpose-driven brand strategy.

To be a truly purpose-driven brand, advertisers now have the ability to establish responsible media practices through their media planning and ad buying strategies, as well as the adtech platforms they use to deliver their marketing messages.

How adtech can help advertisers maintain responsible media strategies

Responsible media practices mean supporting content that may often include sensitive, nuanced terms to discuss race, religion, and gender-based topics. These same terms frequently appear on keyword blocklists that advertisers use in their brand safety and brand suitability efforts. While these lists may ensure safe ad environments at scale, they potentially prohibit advertisers from upholding a responsible media strategy.

Analyzing a word based on its surface-level meaning, without taking into consideration its context within the broader meaning of the content, is the equivalent of judging a book by its cover.

To establish a full-scale advertising targeting strategy that supports responsible media practices, brands need an adtech solution that enables them to analyze context at scale versus keyword-level analysis. Adtech tools, such as Oracle Contextual Intelligence, targets ads based on relevant content to deliver impactful ad experiences.  Instead of using words to define brand safety and suitability content, the technology can analyze sections of a page and determine the content’s meaning and sentiment, giving brands the power to support responsible media practices while ensuring brand safe ad environments.

Immediate actions advertisers can take to establish a responsible media strategy

The advertising industry plays an integral role within the media landscape. A brand’s ad spend can help ensure the funding of publishers committed to responsible media practices but making it a part of your advertising strategy can be difficult.

Here are immediate steps you can take right now:

1. Refrain from using blocklists if possible 

Because they propagate stereotyping via a term-based appraisal of content, blocklists can inadvertently eliminate valuable ad placement opportunities that support responsible media publishers.

2. Understand how the blocklists you’re using may be impacting your advertising placements 

Run tests to determine the type and volume of blocked content, and whether or not it is actually keeping your ads out of unsafe environments.

3. Remove ambiguous terms from your blocklists 

If you do use a blocklist, conduct an audit to identify the words you are blocking that may include more nuanced meanings.

4. Adopt an end-to-end approach by using prebid and post-bid filtering solutions 

By implementing prebid filtering solutions, you have a better chance at removing unsafe content before it enters the bid stream. Post-bid filtering adds one more layer of last-mile protection.  

5. Find brand-relevant topics that align with responsible media practices 

What subject matter aligns with your brand’s purpose? Identify the topics that coincide with your brand values and invest ad dollars in the media owners who support responsible media practices. 

6. Measure and iterate your targeting strategies and continuously refine your approach 

By monitoring your performance and brand safety efforts, you gain deeper insights into what’s working and what needs to improve—enabling you to identify issues as they happen and determine how best to optimize your ongoing targeting strategy.

By supporting responsible media initiatives, brands have a unique opportunity to take a stand and drive real change on key social issues. But before you can scale your advertising efforts, you need the right adtech tools to avoid harmful ad environments while embracing responsible media practices. Oracle Contextual Intelligence can help you have a bigger impact on social issues, boosting your brand reputation and building deeper connections with consumers.


Learn more about responsible media and its role in your brand safety and suitability efforts: Brand safety, suitability and responsible media: A guide for digital advertisers


Chase Mathew

Product Marketing Manager, Measurement

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