UM’s Joshua Lowcock On The Facebook Boycott And The Brand Safety Battle

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Social Distancing With Friends

Brand safety is always top of mind for advertisers. But it’s become more important than ever as issues from coronavirus misinformation to the ongoing Facebook ad boycott dominate industry headlines.

For Joshua Lowcock, chief digital officer at UM and global brand safety officer at IPG Mediabrands, the renewed focus is an opportunity for advertisers to hold platforms and publishers across the board to a higher standard.

“The challenges to Facebook are not unique to them,” he says. “We need to use this moment to hold all platforms more accountable, and really make advertisers think about what they fund and where their ads run.”

While a boycott may not do much harm to Facebook’s bottom line, it does increase pressure on the company to accept accountability – and make real changes.

“It shouldn’t be thought of as a boycott for 30 days,” Joshua says. “These are ongoing conversations that need to be had with partners … every time you have a meeting. They’ll never be perfect, but we can keep pushing them toward perfection.”

To help advertisers frame brand safety in the context of their corporate responsibility goals, UM introduced its Media Responsibility Principles in June, which break the massive issue of brand safety on the internet down into digestible pieces so brands can tackle it head on.

Joshua talks with AdExchanger from Manhattan, where he’s been riding out the pandemic since March. During the lockdown he kept busy by publishing a book based on the diary of a relative who was a prisoner of war during World War II.

“Reading about someone who went through an absolutely awful time has given me a great sense of perspective,” he said.