Omnicom Media Group tackles standards across the media spectrum, starting with social

Keep up to date with Digiday’s annual coverage of Advertising Week in New York. More from the series →

Anyone paying attention to what’s been going on in the digital media world knows that standards — or a lack of them — have contributed to all manner of ills and problems, spanning programmatic, social, retail, connected TV and elsewhere.

Digiday has learned that Omnicom Media Group is rolling out a series of partnerships and alliances over the course of this week (timed to Advertising Week in New York), all under the banner of its Council for Accountability and Standards in Advertising (CASA), to help better understand and create accountability for its clients when they invest across those media channels.

The first, Digiday has learned, deals with the challenges of social media, notably as the presidential election in the U.S. nears, which is expected to be loaded with mis- and disinformation thanks to the advent of generative AI.

CASA’s social subgroup hopes to help advertisers get answers to five essential questions when investing in social media inventory: Can I control where my brand will appear? Can I confirm where my brand ran? Does the platform monitor and report adjacency? Does the platform enforce adjacency policies? And does the platform ensure age-appropriate content?

Started in 2020 right around the time of the Stop Hate for Profit boycotts of major social platforms, CASA aims to set standards in advertising control, seller transparency and brand safety across major media channels, and thereby increase advertiser confidence, category growth and media ROI. OMG worked closely with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and the 4A’s to set achievable parameters for the standards it’s devised.

But the holding company media agency group also worked with relevant players in each of the media channels to ensure it’s doable as well, explained Ben Hovaness, OMG’s senior vp of marketplace intelligence. In this first case, the major social media platforms.

“We’ve been engaged with all the social platforms very consistently, making sure that we’re partnering with them on the development of these new capabilities,” said Hovaness. “Whenever you roll out something like this, you need to test it at small scale — you need pilot clients for alpha and beta features — so we would source them clients for those initiatives. In order to maximize the chances that these platforms would be able to hit the target of capability we were setting, we wanted to make sure that they had a development target that wasn’t just coming from Omnicom but also from the industry at large.”

Rob Pearsall, OMG’s managing director of social activation, said the effect of CASA has enabled proactive steps taken rather than Monday morning quarterbacking. 

“For years, we were sort of forced to take a reactive approach with clients,” said Pearsall. “Something would happen, and we’d have to set up a call Monday morning. The fact that we now have, in many cases, a standard set of solutions in place — the core of which is this adjacency control solution — allows us to have an upfront conversation to say, here’s where the solutions are for each of the platforms that we are active on, and develop sort of a crisis playbook. So if X, Y, or Z situation occurs, here’s what is automatically in place.”

OMG clients have been on board with putting CASA’s pillars to use.

“By leveraging the power of platforms like CASA, we’re able to create personalized and engaging experiences for our consumers at scale across social media channels, while advancing our values of innovation, brand safety and consumer-centricity,” said Clorox Company’s CMO Eric Schwartz. “We look forward to continuing this OMG partnership with CASA 2.0 in order to see similar impact across SSP, retail and CTV environments and investment.”

By working with GARM and the 4A’s, Hovaness said OMG doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to brand safety. “We were very careful about partnering with standards bodies not competing with them,” he said. “Because there’s so much amazing work that’s being done by GARM and the 4A’s that we don’t have any desire to duplicate or displace them.”

Rob Rakowitz, GARM’s initiative lead, argues that progress is being made. “GARM started its work four years ago to help ad buyers and sellers drive more transparent decisions, choice and controls on ad placement relative to content safety and suitability,” he said. “Developing adjacency standards is an enabler in realizing that objective, and OMG’s partnership via their CASA framework has been an enabler in that workstream. With standards developed, we’re keen to progress together to understand how platforms enable them via first-party tools, third-party integrations — and ultimately independent verification of their effectiveness.”

More in Media Buying

Goodway Group quietly lays off employees in ‘rounds’ in ongoing workforce reduction

Digital media agency Goodway Group has been laying off employees across multiple teams in the past year as part of an ongoing reduction in its workforce, according to multiple sources who have been terminated.

Omnicom’s Cannes strategy starts with purchase-path research showing just how much has changed

The main message: marketers need to collapse silos because the connected commerce experience, when organically blended with entertainment and social media, is eroding the traditional sales funnel model.

How influencer agencies vet and navigate past fake influencers and followers

With the influx of virtual influencers and generative artificial intelligence content, it can get complicated for influencer agencies to navigate creator partnerships and verify authenticity of their followings and engagement metrics.