New WFA alliance is “fantastic opportunity” says Norm Johnston

Today in Cannes, Unruly joined 16 of the world’s leading advertisers as they announced the Global Alliance for Responsible Media: an unprecedented, global collaboration with agencies, media companies and platforms, and industry associations to rapidly improve digital safety.

WFA panel (from left to right) Lisa Granatstein, Isabel Massey, Rob Rakowitz, Carolyn Everson, Luis Di Como

With nearly 3.8 billion people online, the world is increasingly connected, and yet the increase in dangerous, hateful, disruptive and fake content online risks threatening our global community.

Members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media recognize the role that advertisers can play in collectively pushing to improve the safety of online environments. Together, they are rallying publishers and platforms to do more to address harmful and misleading content and to work together to develop and deliver against a concrete set of actions, processes and protocols for protecting people and brands.

The Alliance was founded by the World Federation of Advertisers members and will also be championed by the ANA CMO Growth Council, a member organization of the WFA. This effort enlists:

  • Advertisers including Adidas, Bayer, BP, Danone, Diageo, General Mills, GSK
    Consumer Health, LVMH, Mars, Incorporated, Mastercard, Mondelēz International,
    NBCUniversal, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and Unilever;
  • Experts at Dentsu, GroupM, IPG, Publicis and Omnicom Media Group, representing
    media agencies;
  • Media companies and platforms at launch include Facebook, Google/YouTube,
    NBCUniversal; Teads; TRUSTX; Twitter; Unruly and Verizon Media; and
  • Supporting industry associations ANA, 4A’s, Interactive Advertising Bureau, ISBA,
    Mobile Marketing Association, Coalition for Better Ads, Effie Worldwide and WFA
    alongside their local advertising association members.

U7 member Luis Di Como, EVP Global Media, Unilever commented: “When industry challenges spill into society, creating division and putting our children at risk, it’s on all of us to act. We’ve achieved a lot through Unilever’s Responsibility Framework but to do more, we must do it together. Founding this Alliance is a great step towards rebuilding trust in our industry and society.”

An immediate focus will be to form and empower an inclusive working group charged with prioritizing a set of concrete steps already under consideration by the Alliance. This is the first time an alliance that represents all sides of the media industry is forming, underpinned by a working group committed to meeting regularly and reporting back on its progress to members and the industry.

Norm Johnston, Global CEO, Unruly, added: “At Unruly, we talk a lot about the concept of “hearts and minds”, and that’s because we never forget that there is always a real person behind the audience and emotional data we work with. We’re conscious of the role that adtech has to play in delivering a better digital experience, one that is mutually beneficial for brands, publishers and audiences. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media is a fantastic opportunity for Unruly to work with our industry peers to achieve that goal of a better, safer, more rewarding online experience, and we look forward to promoting its goals through our U7 and UNext initiatives.”

The first formal meeting of the Alliance will take place Wednesday, 19 June at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, hosted by the WFA Media Board. A panel with the Alliance, among them, representatives from founding members Unilever, Mars and Diageo, discuss their vision, goals and priorities, will take place on Tuesday 18 June. Alliance members will ask for the industry to open all meetings in Cannes with a call to action for more collective responsibility in media practices.

About the Global Alliance for Responsible Media
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media was formed to identify specific collaborative actions, processes and protocols for protecting consumers and brands from safety issues. Alliance members will work collaboratively to identify actions that will better protect consumers online, working towards a media environment where hate speech, bullying and disinformation is challenged, where personal data is protected and used responsibly when given, and where everyone, especially children, are better protected from harm. Alliance members acknowledge their collective power to significantly improve the health of the media ecosystem.

Read more about Unruly’s mission to clean up digital marketing here

In our next in the A-Z of adtech series we look at optimising creative for sound off, and whether audio metrics are still a valid way of measuring ad performance.

It’s a tense time for publishers…

On average, desktop traffic is declining in favour of mobile. Using the US as an example, 63% of online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, which means that desktop display traffic, currently sold via direct sales team and SSPs is also declining.

On the face of it, that might not sound like a big deal. It’s not like people are giving up the internet, they’re just consuming more content on their phones. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that the online advertising landscape is changing.

Recent headlines made by Apple about its Safari browser implementing Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) which will block all 3rd party cookies by default carry massive implications for publishers when their content is viewed through Safari – the default browser for the world’s 700 million iPhone users (not to mention the 1.3b Apple devices worldwide currently in use). That’s a lot of eyeballs being separated from targeted advertising.

If that wasn’t enough, the industry is nervously waiting to see how Google’s Chrome and other browsers will follow suit with their own updates which will have a major impact on advertisers. One of the big areas of concern is audibility.

Let’s look at HAVOC (Human, Audible, Viewable On Completion). CBA guidelines dictate that autoplay video ads should be served sound off, which everyone agrees makes for a better consumer experience – so much so, that most of the major browsers are issuing updates that will block publishers if they try to run outstream video ads with sound on (or autoplay In-Stream ads).

Persuading audiences to perform an extra task in activating sound on top of any campaign call to action would be a near-impossible task, so canny advertisers and agencies started to perform workarounds. If the format default was no sound, they started to optimise the creative for silence.

This has been going on for a while, and there’s a growing body of insight around the effectiveness of different editing and subtitle techniques (which boils down to keeping things concise and to the point, and avoiding full transcriptions).

This all sounds amazing until you come back to issue that buyers still chase HAVOC KPIs, equating sound-on to success. This ignores the engagement potential of a well-crafted silent ad and comes into direct conflict with the new browser updates.

Lessons from history

When online video took off in the mid-2000s, the industry quickly realised that effective digital marketing wasn’t just about putting TV ads on YouTube, yet our KPIs for video today seem to be hardwired to the old TVC ideal.

In effect, we’ve witnessed the creation of a new ad format without realising it: the silent video unit. User acceptance of silent video is likely to be driven by Facebook, where 85% of video content is consumed in silence.

We already understand the concept of multi-screening, where people look at their phones by watching television – but we also need to consider multi-listening, where audiences are browsing the web while listening to Spotify or Soundcloud or the latest episode of My Dad Wrote a Porno. Sound on video in these instances would be disruptive and annoying.

Is the future silent?

There’s still more to learn about optimising creative for silence, but this is obviously going to be a growing space given the widespread adoption of the CBA-style ad standards. But HAVOC/AVOC as a metric comes from a time before we understood that silent video could work as well as, if not better, than an audible counterpart.

The big question is this: are the current benchmarks still relevant? At Unruly we strongly advise our advertiser partners to make more visually arresting videos for mobile or media buyers to consider viewability metrics over audible measurement.

Viewability is a far more accurate measure of attention and validity than audibility. According to MEC North America in a recent Digiday article, branded videos from its clients average 85-90 percent silent video views, with no detrimental effect on KPIs like brand lift or purchase intent.

This is corroborated by a 2019 study we conducted with Lumen (Attention and Brand Impact) which compared the same ad with sound on and sound off. Both videos achieved similar impact on the perception of ‘good quality’ (sound on 46%, sound off 43%) and ‘good value’ (sound on 30%, sound off 28%).

Unruly is conducting further research on the role of audio in the digital marketing mix. We’re working with the global SVPs of some of the world’s biggest advertisers, who make up our client council – the U7 – to help them navigate this new soundless world.

At the core of this is A/B testing creative that has been optimised for sound off – to see whether viewer response differs from the original pre-roll sound on format in terms of emotion, brand recall, brand favorability, purchase intent, ad recall.

The tests are happening now… watch this space.

To further help advertisers ensure their video content is fit-for-purpose in a sound off environment we’ve just updated our UnrulyEQ Edit Suite toolkit to include In-Article Fix. We’ll take a TVC or pre-roll ad and optimise it for the world of outstream.

First, we use UnrulyEQ to identify the most emotionally impactful scenes – according to research by Lumen Partners* the optimum length for outstream ads is 20 seconds. Then we update the branding in the creative and ad sound off elements like subtitles or interactivity.

We know that that silent video can be every bit as compelling as sound on – keeping audiences glued to the screen with invitations to engage through interactive, clickable – and most importantly – measurable features.

This couldn’t be more relevant in mobile first markets like ours.

Click here to find out about our different advertising formats.

*Lumen Research – “Attention and Brand Impact” – January 2019

Click here to view other posts in our A-Z of adtech series.

Unruly has been featured for the first time in the latest IPA Digital Media Owner Survey, picking up some impressive scores and rankings among some of the biggest names in media and adtech.

Launched in 2007, the bi-annual survey collects more than 350 responses from digital planners, strategists, buyers and specialists in IPA member media agencies. Respondents are asked to rate top trading and adtech partners against a set of attributes on a seven-point scale. 

Overall experience

Out of 22 suppliers, Unruly scored 7th place with 79.3% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, “My overall experience of dealing with this supplier is a good one”. While TI Media (formerly Time Inc) secured the top spot with an impressive 87.5%, the big tech platforms such as Twitter, Snap, Google/YouTube and Amazon dominated the bottom of the table. Facebook was the worst performing supplier with just 41.8% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement.

IPA scores

Excellent understanding

When asked how much they agreed with the statement, “The sales team demonstrates an excellent understanding of their own products”, Unruly stormed to the top of the table with more than 95% of respondents agreeing/strongly agreeing.

“I’m really happy with that result,” said Saint Betteridge, UK Commercial Director, “we’re always refreshing product knowledge and working on new ways to tell the Unruly story.”

IPA scores

Face to face

When it comes to constructive meetings or telephone contact, Unruly also performed well – scoring 4th place. Once again it the big tech companies filled out the bottom of the table, with Snap coming last behind Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Spotify. “This is another great signal that the way our teams engage with clients is working,” explained Betteridge. “There’s always room for improvement, but it’s good to know that our clients feel that every encounter with Unruly is a useful and positive one.”

This idea of useful and positive partnerships was backed up by Unruly’s performance when participants were asked how much they agreed with the statement; “The sales team engenders a real sense of an agency/media owner partnership”. Unruly beat most of the competition to rank 3rd. “It’s interesting to see that 64% of the companies ranked scored more than 60% or higher in this category, while the big tech platforms could only manage scores in the 20s and 40s bracket. The scores throughout this survey support the message we’re hearing from clients in that people are hungry for an alternative to solely working with the big tech giants, and that companies like Unruly can play a key role in the media mix.”

Learn more about how Unruly could supercharge your video campaigns here.

Unruly has today announced a new global partnership deal with, the official online presence of the FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™.

The partnership means Unruly is the exclusive supplier of outstream video advertising across the entire website.

Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motorsport – is the most watched annual sport globally, with 21 races,  in 21 countries across five continents and broadcasted in nearly 200 territories worldwide. The media and entertainment brand has a cumulative audience of 1.76b viewers and receives more than 506m unique viewers, including a UK reach of 27.73m.

Commenting on the partnership, Kenneth Suh, COO Unruly said: “The F1 audience is both enormous and enormously passionate, and that makes it the perfect platform for advertisers to reach a highly engaged audience. We’re thrilled to welcome F1 to Unruly’s family of premium, brand-safe publishers.”

Frank Arthofer, Director of Digital and Licensing at Formula 1 said of the partnership: “Unruly’s polite ad formats and commitment to brand safety make it a natural partner for a premium sports brand like F1. We look at everything through the eyes of our fans, and the F1 audience expects a high-quality experience across our live and TV broadcast channels. It is important to us that the online ad experience matches those standards.” outstream video is available exclusively through Unruly and joins the advertising marketplace’s existing roster of premium sports titles, including talkSPORT and GiveMeSport. Unruly recently renewed a similar exclusive relationship to supply outstream video to the Telegraph globally.

Find out more about how Unruly works with premium publishers here. 

Earlier this week on Monday 18 March, the U7 met at Unruly’s London headquarters for the second U7 Summit. 

With an agenda titled ‘Trust & Transparency’, the Summit explored issues around transparency, viewability metrics and the relationship between advertising and quality content.

“Last year we launched the U7 in New York and it was a great opportunity to get representatives from the biggest advertisers and agencies on the planet into one room. This next meeting in London represents the next step in the U7’s mission to tackle the big issues in digital marketing,” said Norm Johnston, Global CEO, Unruly.

(Professor Karen Nelson-Field talks viewability to the U7)

Brands represented included Unilever, Diageo, GSK and Nestlé, and these were joined by agency leaders from Havas, Omnicom Media Group, GroupM, Publicis Media and Denstu Aegis Network.

Guest speakers for the London Summit included noted media academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field, whose recent research into ad viewability marks a major advance in the quest for greater clarity in media metrics. Speaking ahead of the event, Nelson-Field commented: “The gap in understanding around viewability has created a lot of uncertainty, particularly regarding how much is enough,” commented Professor Nelson-Field. “We already have platforms trading on variations of the MRC standard. Our work shines some light on the viewability puzzle. I’m looking forward to presenting to the U7 thought leaders.”

News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks presented a panel discussion which examined the complex relationship between advertising and quality journalism in the digital age, she was joined by Victoria Newton, Editor Sun on Sunday and Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director and Magazine Editor of The Sunday Times.

(News UK Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks)

Rounding off the Summit was the U7 Social, where U7 members, guest speakers and invited guests enjoyed emotions-themed cocktails and the sounds of Virgin Radio DJ Kate Lawler and legendary Good Times DJ Norman Jay MBE on the decks in the Unruly Home.

(Norman Jay MBE provided the tunes)

Unruly has been certified for the IAB UK’s Gold Standard. But what is it, and what does it mean to be certified?

The IAB UK Gold Standard is a key element of the IAB’s vision to build a sustainable future for digital advertising. Launched in 2017,  it has three simple but fundamental aims:

1. Reduce ad fraud through the implementation of, or by demonstrating support for, the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt initiative. Ads.txt allows domain owners to list who is authorised to sell their inventory, preventing the selling of spoofed or fake inventory.

2. Increase brand safety by becoming certified signatories to the JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Brand Safety Principles (for current non-signatories) or by continuing to have their policies and processes independently verified (for current signatories).

3. Improve the digital advertising experience for consumers by adhering to the IAB Tech Lab’s LEAN Principles and the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads.

Aat the time of launch,Tim Elkington, Chief Digital Officer, IAB commented: “Everyone agrees that digital advertising standards need to improve to keep this industry sustainable and thriving. The IAB Gold Standard is a practical measure that demonstrates media owner commitment to making this happen.” He also recorded this short film explaining the Gold Standard in more detail.

The full list of Gold Standard Certified and Registered companies can be found here.

Explore more of our A-Z of adtech series here. 

Legendary UK broadcaster Chris Evans launches his new Breakfast Show this week at Virgin Radio UK, and Unruly is helping to promote the show by distributing a video campaign. 

A series of videos, featuring Evans and his family, will be distributed across Unruly’s network of premium publishers. The ads will also be served through the Verified Marketplace – the multi-publisher alliance comprising News UK, the Telegraph and the Guardian News & Media.

Virgin Radio is part of the Wireless Group, owned by News Corp UK. Thanks to an innovative 12-month sponsorship deal with Sky, the new breakfast show will run without ad breaks.

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show is broadcast Monday-Friday, 06:30am-10:00am on DAB 11A and Sky 0215.

The UK branch of the IAB has confirmed that Unruly has qualified for Gold Standard Certification.

Nearly 70 companies are fully certified for the IAB UK Gold Standard. By qualifying for certification they have committed to:

1. Reduce ad fraud through the implementation of, or by demonstrating support for, the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt initiative. Ads.txt allows domain owners to list who is authorised to sell their inventory, preventing the selling of spoofed or fake inventory.

2. Increase brand safety by becoming certified signatories to the JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Brand Safety Principles (for current non-signatories) or by continuing to have their policies and processes independently verified (for current signatories).

3. Improve the digital advertising experience for consumers by adhering to the IAB Tech Lab’s LEAN Principles and the standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads.

Full certification is a two stage process. Prior to certification, Unruly had Registered Gold Standard status.

Learn more about Unruly’s brand safety and anti-fraud credentials here. 

The Brand Safety Institute (BSI) recently named Unruly’s Jess King as one of the industry leaders chosen as founding members of the BSI Editorial Board. The board will help design the brand safety curriculum for BSI’s accreditation program for corporate executives.

In the Unrulyverse, King is Senior Product Manager and heads up the dedicated brand safety team behind UnrulyX Shield.

Talking about her appointment, King said: “I am thrilled to be joining the BSI Editorial Board as a founding member alongside a group of incredible industry experts. I am excited to see how we can work together to help design the BSI brand safety curriculum and accelerate how we share knowledge and expertise.”

The BSI editorial board includes senior executives focusing on brand safety and related issues from top trade associations – including the 4A’s, IAB UK, IAB Tech Lab, ISBA, JICWEBS, and TAG – and companies – including Bank of America, Facebook, IPG Mediabrands, GroupM… and Unruly!

“If you want to establish a rigorous standard for brand safety knowledge and expertise, you need to consult with the industry leaders who have set the bar on those issues,” said Neal Thurman, Co-Founder of BSI. “We are delighted to welcome a powerhouse panel of brand safety experts from across the digital advertising space to help us design a robust, impactful, and forward-thinking brand safety curriculum. Working together, we can give brand safety executives the information and tools they need to protect their brands – and our ecosystem – from the growing range of brand safety threats.”

The full BSI Editorial Board includes:

  • Joe Barone, Managing Partner, Digital Ad Operations, GroupM North America
  • Rob Beeler, Chairman, AdMonsters       
  • Alyssa Bergman, VP & Chief Privacy Officer, Adobe
  • Jason Bier, EVP, Chief Data & Privacy Officer, Engine Group
  • Dennis Buchheim, SVP & GM, IAB Tech Lab
  • Steve Chester, Director of Media, ISBA
  • Scott Cunningham, Founder, Cunningham.Tech
  • Christine Desrosiers, Director, Revenue Systems & Programmatic, BabyCenter
  • John Devine, Head of Global Operations, Facebook
  • Richard Foan, Executive Chairman, JICWEBS
  • Rachel Glasser, Chief Privacy Officer, Wunderman
  • Stacey Hultgren, Senior Manager, Ad Quality Measurement, Pandora
  • Louis Jones, EVP, Media & Data, 4A’s
  • Jessica King, Senior Product Manager, Unruly
  • Joshua Lowcock, EVP, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer, UM (part of IPG Mediabrands)
  • Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK
  • Jessica Morel, VP, Global Marketing, Oracle Data Cloud
  • John Murphy, VP, Marketplace Quality, OpenX
  • Richard Murphy, EVP, BPA Worldwide
  • Terri Schriver, SVP, Enterprise Media, Bank of America
  • Rachel Nyswander Thomas – Chair of BSI Editorial Board – SVP, Operations & Policy, Trustworthy Accountability Group
  • Sal Tripi, AVP, Digital Operations & Compliance, Publishers Clearing House
  • Kyle Turner, Senior Manager, Inventory Quality, MediaMath
  • Eric Warburton, VP, Ad Operations, Horizon Media
  • Oliver von Wersch, Founder & CEO, vonwerschpartner Digital Strategies

The Brand Safety Institute was founded to professionalise and advance the executive capacity needed at every company to protect their brands through research, accreditation, networking, and education. By accrediting Brand Safety Officers and providing them with relevant information, expertise, and connections, the Brand Safety Institute aims to help a community of brand leaders safeguard both their own brands and the broader digital advertising supply chain.

Learn more about UnrulyX Shield and Unruly’s brand safety expertise here.

Unruly, the video marketplace owned by News Corp, has today announced the appointment of Christina Van Tassell to its board as a Director.

Van Tassell is the Chief Financial Officer of Dow Jones. She joined the company in November 2017 and is responsible for the preparation and reporting of the company’s financial performance, providing strategic guidance and analytical insight to support business performance, forecasting, treasury, taxation and governance.

Commenting on this appointment, Norm Johnston, Global CEO, Unruly, said: “I’m thrilled that Christina is joining the Unruly board. We worked together closely during my time at GroupM. Her experience at Dow Jones and Xaxis brings some formidable premium programmatic industry experience to the table, and I look forward to seeing how her expertise can help guide Unruly through its next exciting chapter as a flagship digital brand within the News Corp family.”

Christina Van Tassell said: “I am looking forward to working closely with the board to realize Unruly’s tremendous growth potential. Unruly has a talented team running a fascinating business in a dynamic market and are on track for great success.”

Van Tassell’s appointment sees her join the existing board line up including: Sarah Wood, Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Unruly, Rebekah Brooks, CEO News UK, Michael Miller, Chairman, News Corp Australia, Marc Frons, CTO, News Corp and Jesse Angelo, Publisher and CEO, NY Post.

Prior to joining Dow Jones, Van Tassell was the Chief Financial Officer of Xaxis, a WPP Company.  She was also Partner and Chief Financial Officer at Centurion Holdings. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers where she held senior roles in New York, London and Sweden.

Meet the rest of the Unruly board here