Cannes, France – Leading companies committed to improving fairness in marketing campaigns. The initiative announced at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022, brought together agencies, brands, and other leaders to generate awareness and take action towards mitigating bias in advertising technology. Committing organisations include IBM, Delta Air Lines, WPP, Mindshare, 4A’s, IAB and the Ad Council.
In 2021, IBM launched a research initiative to explore the hypothesis that bias can exist in ad technology, which initial findings confirmed. The research also showed that mitigating bias in ad technology was possible by using AI tools and resources in marketing processes. More industry participation and data collection are needed to better understand the potential impact of bias on these campaigns, but several industry leaders are demonstrating early activism by raising awareness and taking action via IBM’s Advertising Fairness Pledge.
“While the risk of bias in advertising is well known, by making this commitment, these organisations are among the first in the industry to take action,” said Bob Lord, IBM senior vice president of The Weather Company and Alliances.
“Together, we are agreeing to educate ourselves and our companies and ask other industry leaders to join us in helping to mitigate bias in advertising,” added Lord.
Bias is often unintentional, a result of human assumptions and judgments encoded into algorithms that can result in unfair targeting, exclusion of certain groups, and marketing campaign failures. Organisations taking the pledge can contribute data to ongoing studies that seek to better explain the impact of bias. According to Salesforce’s 2022 State of the Connected Customer survey, nearly 62 per cent of consumers surveyed reported they are concerned about bias in AI, up from just 54 per cent two years prior, emphasising the imperative for brands and agencies to better understand its impacts.
“As technology and data prevalence accelerates, the risk for bias in advertising compounds. It is our duty to address this head-on,” said Adam Gerhart, global CEO of Mindshare. “We believe the industry needs to take clear and intentional action, which is why we are committing to leverage the Advertising Toolkit for AI Fairness 360,” added Gerhart.
As the advertising industry continues to face issues related to privacy and transparency, many organisations believe that tackling bias in ad tech could be the next key area of focus for marketers. With increasing consumer demand for transparency in how their data is used, marketers must look for new ways to remain effective. Tapping into alternative privacy-forward data sources, such as weather data, can be effective predictors of behaviour that could also help rebuild trust with consumers.
“As a global brand, we know that every decision we make, whether it’s about a supplier, an employee or an ad campaign, is a reflection of our values and the change we want to see in the world,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director of Brand Marketing.