It has been an incendiary few years, with an increasingly partisan society, campaigns to stop hate and an advertising industry that has struggled to reconcile its own aversion to controversy with behaving responsibly.

Beyond aligning with a variety of social causes, the second half of COVID-19’s first year seemed to create a realization that media buyers did not need to have blocked out virus news in the name of “brand safety”.

Now the coalescing of these issues and more is crystalizing in to a sharp question for brands and buyers: what does it mean to behave responsibly in media these days?

Bigger issues

“The issue of responsibility is significantly broader than most people tend to frame it,” says former GroupM chairman Irwin Gotlieb in this video interview with Beet.TV.

“It’s not simply a matter of ensuring that bot fraud is minimized, that appropriate content association is maintained, brand safety, all of those things.”

Future responsibility

Now there is a groundswell in which brands want to be seen as active participants in bringing about a better future.

“It’s critical for all the players in the media environment to contemplate their impact on society,” Gotlieb says.

So how do they do it?

Gotlieb suggests they ask a robust series of questions, like: “Are we promoting hate? Are we promoting disunity? Are we supporting players who do that? Are we associating our brand with negative aspects of society? Are we maintaining the appropriate levels of diversity?”