Group M must use its power for good in British media and society.


It has been two years since I recently assumed the role of Group M UK CEO along with my existing role as WPP UK Country Manager.

Before joining, I had great ambitions for Group M. We need to be more vocal and use our voices for good, and how we can drive positive change within our industry, and how we can help our agencies continue to deliver to their clients. – A changing world.

It is our global vision to lead the next era of media where advertising is better suited to people.

Within the UK, the leadership team and I have been thinking about what this means for our market and what we can and should be accountable for.

At its core, the advertising industry has the power to influence and change consumer behavior. This is a serious responsibility and an amazing opportunity. No other industry has the power to drive such a change.

As advertisers, we must begin to harness this power to deliver phenomenal value to our customers and truly lead our industry and society at large.

Beyond our specific industry problems, the world is calling for change. The past few years have provided us with a unique opportunity to re-evaluate our contribution to the world as individuals, as organizations, and as industries.

The events driving this are primitive and universally relevant and should not be ignored. From the UK’s exit from the EU at the end of 2019 to the outbreak of a global pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in 2020, this has sparked a global awareness of institutional inequality. We are all facing an impending ecological catastrophe.

When the shocking news of the invasion of Ukraine arrived, we were overwhelmed by offers of assistance across the network. In addition to the range of financial, practical and well-being support available to our Ukrainian colleagues, our teams in Central and Eastern Europe and the UK also deliver clothing, essential goods at the border to help our colleagues resettle in other countries.

As part of that, a government initiative establishes an internal matching scheme for UK peers who want to host, connecting them with WPP peers who need to use the service.

WPP is also Global fundraising appeal In cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), we have provided humanitarian aid to those who are forced to leave their homes and pledged WPP employees to donate to the Match Fund, donating more than $670,000, a total of more than $1.3 million, from our people. UNHCR.

Through this event, we all have a responsibility to support each other and help create a more just society, thinking, “How can I make a difference?” and “What can and should we do as an organization?”

It is these conscious thought patterns and questions that we are responsible for and welcome within Group M and WPP.

We have changed the way we see and think about ourselves and our role in the marketplace. It’s no secret that Group M has been known for its size and volume, which are still important assets. But now it is very important that this power be used for greater good.

It’s a bold statement, but we sincerely believe that in everything we do there is social purpose, diversity and equity. From responsible investing with a focus on brand safety and ethics, to working with valued partners like Brixton Finishing School and the Uninvisibility Project, to continually reviewing PSL to include a diverse range of media owners and audiences… I can go . to.

These are just a few headlines that enable us to use this power to future-proof and shape the next era of media and advertising. .

Why is this so important? According to the Global Advertising Forecast in December of this year, the UK advertising market is expected to grow by 35.7% in 2021.

It also predicts that digital advertising media will account for 86% of the UK advertising market by 2026.

Group M’s market position remains a phenomenal asset. But the way we use it will change. This transformation boils down to the idea of ​​using our “power”.

We believe that what we do can be broken down into three areas: Building a better advertising experience, supporting a more equitable society and building a sustainable future.

This is how we will behave going forward, and in everything we do at Group M UK, these three principles will be prominently implemented. We will guide you briefly.

Create a better advertising experience

To do so, we must first acknowledge and understand one of the most pervasive problems in advertising: a lack of trust. This is something I’ve talked about a lot before and it is up to all of us in the industry to solve this problem.

With this in mind, Group M uses its expertise and present and future products to create relevant, enjoyable, and truly valuable experiences, while using data responsibly, ethically and efficiently.

It’s also about keeping brands and consumers safe, which is a key priority we have in line with our internal ethical policy. I am proud that we are already making great strides in this area.

For example, we were the first media agency to achieve the IAB Gold Standard 2.0, which stands for excellence in brand safety and ad fraud prevention, and we were recently recertified with the TAG Brand Safety 2.0 certification.

fair social support

We (and our work) must truly represent the modern British fancy fruit salad. This can be achieved through a variety of recruitments that seek to remove bias and barriers. But we need to go beyond our internal teams to support a more diverse advertising ecosystem that delivers inclusive campaigns.

Failure to do so will result in content that does not resonate with British society. This approach allows advertisers to reach their audience with a message that resonates in the relevant context, allowing people to resonate and simply “get” it.

That’s why we’re proud of our industry-leading and diverse supply chain network. This allows clients to take action to expand the business scope they work with and empower advertisers to reach a wider range of media owners.

Additionally, this network enables us to assist new media owners in establishing connections, as well as providing industry guidance to ensure they have an equal opportunity to meet advertisers’ needs and standards.

Building a sustainable future

For Group M, it’s important to use our voices to shape the industry’s response to the climate emergency and build a more sustainable future.

We know that more and more customer companies we work with are looking for ways to make the planet lighter. Thus, we can help our customers meet their needs by helping them measure and reduce the negative impact of their telecommunications operations. Challenging goals and priorities in this area.

Because the advertisers we work with include some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world, a joint effort to tackle sustainability issues together can have a very significant impact.

We also work with an amazing lineup of media and technology partners. The way we partner with them has recently changed. Of course, we are still working to ensure value, quality and flexibility for our customers, but increasingly we are exploring ways to work with our customers in new ways that we can have a positive impact on them. world.

That is why Group M and its partners have both launched a Responsible Investment Framework to ensure compliance with the highest standards in five key areas: Brand Safety, Data Ethics, Responsible Journalism, Sustainability and Diversity, and Equity and Inclusion. A calculator that allows customers to measure and reduce the negative carbon impact of their campaigns (a first-of-its-kind tool).

the future of advertising

An important lesson for me recently was the importance of being able to adapt. As society changes and embraces change, so should we.

We have to reflect the contemporary media environment and we have to reflect contemporary British society. And as market leaders, we must use our powers to pioneer and drive others as well.

I asked everyone in group M to think individually about how to utilize our “authorities”. How can I create a better advertising experience? How can we support a more just society? How can we help build a sustainable future?”

I think a question like this is something every organization should ask themselves. It’s a really exciting time for us as an industry and we’re looking forward to where we’ll go from here.

Karen Blackett is the UK CEO of Group M.

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