GroupM Rallies Responsible Investment as Go-to-Market Standard, Redefines Scale

The framework signals a new media era where scale serves clients through a commitment to make advertising work better for people

In 2020, GroupM embraced a transformational journey with a new mission: to make advertising work better for people. Since then, we have renewed our business and culture around this shared, single purpose. Advertising that works better for people works better for society, for individuals, for publishers and news organizations, and—ultimately—for our clients.​

So now, today, we aim to reorganize our business around a new concept—the Responsible Investment Framework—that embeds our mission into everything we do and serves as an incubator for innovation at every intersection between our business and society. The five main pillars of our Responsible Investment Framework (RIF) are: brand (and public) safety, platforming diverse voices and inclusive representation, the ethical use of data and application of AI to advertising, investment in responsible journalism and hard news, and decarbonizing the media supply chain by 2030.​

This framework reflects our stand that scale should be leveraged for social good and expands, scales and assembles existing and in-progress initiatives​ by GroupM in these areas under the singular strategic position of “Responsible Investment.” It represents a road map for reducing brand risk and building a more sustainable media ecosystem.

“Socially conscious media buying has found an enthusiastic audience among advertisers that want to maximize media dollars and do it in a way that funds positive change,” said Christian Juhl, GroupM Global CEO. “We need to evolve the mathematical models, valuation and measurement we use so they place a premium not just on reach, viewability and effectiveness, but on social and environmental impact. We need to be willing to pay more for clicks that help boost a stable society, not just our quarterly reports.”

The “Responsible Investment” framework is the next evolution in GroupM’s investment approach and gives the group’s agency teams numerous strategic planning options for clients to consider when investing media dollars. It evolves valuation and measurement methods to account for social and environmental impact like a media placement’s carbon emissions, the diversity of audience makeup and a concerted emphasis on local journalism and credible news sources.

The next era of media must work harder to create a healthier advertising ecosystem for everyone, especially the people consuming it. As the largest global media network, it is our responsibility to help clients assign media dollars as a force for good and we use our scale to bring about positive and meaningful change.

GroupM has long served as industry leaders in areas like brand safety, diverse and inclusive media practices, the ethical use of data, support for credible news and media supply chain sustainability.

“Responsible investment is a framework that is designed to be flexible depending on the market through which the value is assessed, as not all frames apply equally to all markets or for all clients,” said Andrew Meaden, GroupM’s Global Head of Investment. “No matter the application, the framework is designed to integrate responsible investment practices wherever possible, flexibly bending market by market, client to client.”

GroupM’s ‘Responsible Investment’ framework supports initiatives that fall within five focus areas, in different levels of maturity:

Ads seen in a brand-safe environment are critical for brands and the people with which they’re trying to connect. GroupM has long acted as an industry advocate and leader in shaping how brand safety is managed across new and established media partners via collaborative efforts to devise shared technology solutions and establish measurement frameworks and standard definitions.

Some of those moments:

  • 2014: Established GroupM’s Display Viewability Standard
  • 2015: Established GroupM’s Video Viewability Standard
  • 2016: Created the first Global Brand Safety Office/Service
  • 2017: Established GroupM’s Native & Outstream Video Viewability standard
  • 2019: In June, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) is co-founded by GroupM. Later that year, GroupM launches the RADAR Viewability & Brand Safety Benchmarking tool.
  • 2020: Launched GroupM Premium Supply in the U.S.

With ethics ranking three times more important to company trust than competence, binary decisions taken on whether or not data is ‘opted in’ are no longer sustainable in our industry. GroupM’s data ethics philosophy is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” and has long put consumers at the center of its data decisioning.

As the calls grow louder to define the line between good and bad use of data, in February 2021, GroupM created the industry’s first-ever tool to provide a consistent approach to ethical decision-making concerning data-driven media tactics—The Data Ethics Compass. This global web app allows agencies to quickly and consistently evaluate data assets’ ethical risk level across verticals and geographies.

3. DE&I
For advertising to work better for people, brands must dedicate media dollars to supplier diversity and efforts that improve the ecosystem and drive positive cultural influence. GroupM supports publishers that reach more diverse audiences with sustainable initiatives supporting and reaching underrepresented voices and communities.

GroupM has taken a critical stand over the last few years in support of the changing demographics around the world, especially inside the United States in the form of various initiatives, including:

  • 2019: GroupM launches the New Majority Ready Coalition with support from partners to recognize the population growth of non-white citizens to a little less than 40% in America.
  • 2020: In July, GroupM launches the Multicultural Marketplace, comprising 300+ Black & Hispanic owned and/or focused media publishers. In August, GroupM announces an exclusive sponsorship deal with the entire slate of Shondaland Audio podcasts released through its iHeart partnership.

Ethical and responsible media investment is the tip of the spear for our communities. We’re already seeing medium-sized and local news organizations close down at alarming rates, leaving communities underserved and/or unserved by reliable, localized news sources. Investing strategically in the right vehicles and placements helps rebuild credible news and publication ecosystems. Last year, GroupM launched or helped to create:

  • The Global Local News Marketplace with local outlets across 31 countries.
  • The Help Journalism PMP in partnership with TripleLift to curate a brand-safe environment to buy ads next to hard news content.

Media placements have a carbon footprint and reducing a campaign’s carbon emissions is critical in creating a more sustainable ecosystem, advertising and otherwise. GroupM’s ambition is to assess and reduce media-related emissions through its footprint analysis and offset-approach tool.