August 13, 2022

Digital Marketing Education

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Meta controversies spur ANA to consider industry social media watchdog


The ANA and social platforms, particularly Meta, have called for some kind of national social media regulatory framework for years, but action and specifics have been lacking. The result is that social platforms often manage their own self-regulatory systems.

An industry self-regulatory body would be “different than [Meta CEO] Mark Zukerberg saying the word ‘self-regulation,’ or ‘I’m going to take care of business myself,’” said one person familiar with the ANA’s discussions. An industry body would also go beyond the ANA handling matters on its own, because the BBB is independent of any industry segment.

“While we can’t speak to the specifics of this proposal, we have always welcomed regulation that set guidelines for addressing today’s toughest challenges on the internet,” said a Meta spokesman. “Meta is committed to collaborating with the industry to ensure people and businesses can safely express themselves online.”

He pointed to comments from Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, last month calling for an industry body to determine best practices on such questions as verifying age, designing age-appropriate experiences and building parental controls – with input from “civil society, parents and regulators to create standards that are high and protections that are universal.”

More concrete plans on the ANA’s social media agenda are likely to emerge by the time the group holds its annual Media Conference March 2-4 (currently planned as a hybrid event based in Orlando), said Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble and ANA chair. Any move to create a social media self-regulatory body would likely also involve the 4A’s and other industry organizations, he said. But he gave the NAD model high marks for its work in dealing with ad claim disputes.

“What we’re looking at on an industry level is how to work across multiple groups, including the ANA, 4A’s and BBB” as well as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and World Federation of Advertisers, to “look at self-regulation,” Pritchard said.

An ANA-led social media council and bill of rights would in some ways duplicate efforts by GARM, launched three years ago. But it would be different in that it’s U.S. focused and led by marketers, while GARM is made up of social and other media platforms and agencies as well as marketers, Primola said. Social platforms were involved in some of the CMO Growth Council’s discussions last month, he said, but excluded from others.

Marketers involved with GARM tend to be global giants such as P&G, Unilever and Mars, Primola said. One goal of the ANA’s social media council would be to give a larger group of “mid-tier marketers who really make up the bulk of the industry” access to communication with social platforms that they don’t get now, he said.

See all of Ad Age’s 2021 Marketers of the Year here.

The social media initiatives are the most interesting and potentially controversial pieces of a broader agenda for 2022 that the CMO Growth Council set last month. Other priorities for this year include closing the gap with better measurement tools, particularly ones affordable for companies of all sizes, to link creative effectiveness with business results.

Nearly 75% of the council’s CMOs agreed on a need for mechanisms to optimize martech options, something that should be served by the release later this year of the industry’s first glossary of martech terms for marketing procurement. All the CMOs agreed there’s a “critical need for a better pipeline to attract new talent and retain existing marketers, Primola said. And 63% of CMOs agreed that the marketing industry needs to move diversity, equality and inclusion from being an “extra credit” issue for companies to a top commercial priority.



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