(20 August 2018)
Please see our response to your below.
1) The driving force behind misinformation/fake news websites such as these are monetising the traffic it generates, mainly through advertising revenue. Your company is indirectly contributing towards this with the programmatic advertisements seen on the site. Would you consider this statement a fair summary? If not, please indicate an alternative.
Absa does not knowingly support any fake news or illegal sites. Absa and their media partners consider brand safety a core priority and every effort is applied to ensure that the online inventory purchased, is both safe from an Absa brand perspective, but also legitimate in terms of quality and integrity of content. It’s important to note that brand safety using programmatic advertisements is a global issue with constant reviews and monitoring to improve quality of inventory.
2) Who is responsible for your company’s marketing strategy? Do you make use of in-house or external talent to identify and implement these strategies?
The marketing strategy is owned and managed by Absa marketing division, but with the support of media partner agencies, whom are custodians and implementers of Absa’s media strategy. In terms of contractual agreement, brand safety and viewability are mandatory requirements.
3) What is the mandate of your company’s marketing strategists mentioned in 2) above in respect of advertising on blacklisted websites? For example, how do you ensure that your brand is not associated with pornographic or illegal websites?
All partners need to strictly adhere to brand safety criteria and are required to make use of the best available brand safety technology / partners in order to drive the brand safety agenda. Our service providers operate within strict black and white list environments and have taken care in building out a brand safe online environment, from many angles, not exclusive to only pornographic or illegal websites. The agency teams are constantly working at keeping these lists updated as new developments occur.
4) Do you take similar precautions to ensure your brand is not associated with misinformation websites? If not, why not?
We have blacklisted those sites that we are aware of. However, new sites pop up on a regular basis. These are added to the misinformation black list as we become aware of them. In addition, we also use negative site and keyword exclusion lists that prevent us from appearing to the wrong audience and within the wrong contexts, based on digital content labeling as well as category exclusion.
5) Were you aware that your advertisements were being published on websites propagating false stories as news?
No, and we sincerely appreciate when this is pointed out to us. We are committed to ensuring that Absa does not contribute to their advertising profits in any way.
6) Now that you are aware that your brand is advertising on misinformation websites, what steps do you intend taking to safeguard the integrity of your brand?
We are currently reviewing all of our whitelists to ensure that all sites included are 100% legitimate. In addition, we will continue to source updated lists of fake news sites in order to further extend our misinformation blacklist. We will also be investigating additional tools that will allow for more effective monitoring of such sites.
Absa Group Ltd