A Week in Digital Media: MediaLad

Who’s MediaLad? In digital media, everyone pretends they know who he, or she, is.

We do. Or do we? What we do know is that MediaLad is NDA’s new regular columnist, providing his/her unique, irreverent view of the latest gossip and goings-on in the digital media industry.

Let’s talk about corporate social responsibility. It’s something that we hear about all the time, how companies take it very seriously, that it’s something that’s close to their heart and part of their values. And yet the lessons don’t seem to have been learned, with constant examples of how the tech giants fail time and time again.

It’s a sorry state of affairs that YouTube, less than a year on from its last debacle, is in the press again.

This time, the story focuses on YouTube showing ads next to videos of young girls featuring inappropriate user comments from sick individuals. Although only $400 is mentioned as a figure advertisers might have spent on this content, it’s a significant amount more that is spent on CSR.

Today’s internet is an ethical and legal minefield and something that needs a hell of a lot more regulation than is currently administered. With Facebook getting a slap on the wrist and Google facing this latest shambles, is it time that companies, governments and influencers take more responsibility for their social responsibility?

I ask this as a human being and not purely as somebody who works in the sector, looking at what’s happening in the world and how humans are adopting the technologies that are available to them. Let’s take Brexit, which is, to my mind, the most ridiculous event in British history. There were so many opportunities for people to take their “social responsibility” and act in the greater good of the people.

Brexiteers, understand this. If there was another vote, there would be no Brexit. People are not that stupid twice. Just look at what it has done to the country already. Morality aside, the data manipulation issue should be ringing very loud alarm bells.

There was significant overspending and data breaches that in the commercial world would have been hammered. It seems to me that in this case they have been largely ignored in the tribal morass of rhetoric that passes for political debate and discourse these days.

And yet perversely, this is literally the best thing that could happen to those people that say data-driven marketing works. Using data works. Who knew?

I take this as an example of what I see as social responsibility, because algorithms on social networks can and will continue to be gamified to benefit the smarter buyers – and that’s what we’ve seen from various political campaigns in the last few years.

This, and the latest pitfalls of the likes of Google, needs to spark action across companies, action from the media and influencers and, in the end, all of us as consumers, to raise awareness and drive change.

We should all take responsibility and speak out to the platforms demanding greater control. Those controls, be it brand safety, viewability or other needed mechanisms should have always been there, and if not – you should be asking for them.

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