Financial Times launches online advertising charter

The Financial Times has launched a commercial charter for its advertisers to guarantee online viewability, brand safety and pricing, and combat ad fraud.

Financial Times: encourages advertisers to use only approved online ad exchanges
Financial Times: encourages advertisers to use only approved online ad exchanges

Jon Slade, chief commercial officer at the FT, said the news brand drew up the list of eight commitments because of "the questions being asked by advertisers and agencies about the digital ecosystem".

Slade is particularly keen for advertisers to use only approved online ad exchanges to buy FT inventory and warned against them trying to buy it more cheaply from an unapproved third party.

"If you’re paying a silly price, it’s pretty certain you’re not buying what you think you’re buying," Slade pointed out.

The FT admitted two years ago that some advertisers were buying inventory from rogue third parties and then discovering that their ads were not appearing on FT.com.

Slade said the title has largely succeeded in curbing that problem but warned that the digital ecosystem was still badly skewed when a media owner receives only 40% of the price of an ad because so many intermediaries are taking a cut. "It’s not good enough," he added.

While conceding that none of the commitments are new, Slade said the FT has gone public because it wanted to issue "a call to arms to other publishers to follow suit".

The FT claims 846,000 paying subscribers but Slade said: "Without advertising, we wouldn’t be able to run our business. Advertising is still a core part of our business."

There are 647,000 digital subscribers and 199,000 in print.

The commercial charter follows last year’s publication of an FT customer charter, which guaranteed standards and integrity around user experience and data.

Key points from FT Commercial Charter (abridged by Campaign):

1 Our foremost concern is our readers and maintaining trust around transparency, data privacy and user experience, including advertising.

2 We use Internet Advertising Bureau viewable ad impression guidelines to guarantee viewability standards.

3 We do not count "non-human" traffic and only make FT inventory available programmatically through specific ad exchanges: Google (AdX), Pangaea (Rubicon) and TrustX

4 We are completely transparent about digital audience segments and when they are based on first-party, declared data.

5 We ensure advertising is only seen in appropriate contexts to ensure brand safety. We use "FT-created blacklists", Google DoubleClick Bid Manager and Integral AdScience.

6 We are completely transparent with clients about pricing such as media costs and data fees when we buy inventory on their behalf. We will not arbitrage. Our programmatic inventory is not heavily discounted.

7 All digital campaign metrics are verified by independent third party technology providers. Our print circulation figure is genuine and not artificially enhanced by free copies; every newspaper is paid for.

8 All our advertising clients have trained, knowledgeable FT representatives.

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