What is GARM?
GARM is the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, a cross-industry initiative that unites advertisers, media agencies, media platforms and industry groups to confront the threat of harmful content online.
The goal is to remove harmful content from advertiser-supported media on digital media platforms, and ensure that the industry works together to ensure that this is prioritized by executives and enabled by media experts and technicians.
GARM was started by the World Federation of Advertisers and is supported by the CMO Growth Council of the Association of National Advertisers in the US.
The world is growing increasingly polarized, driven by inequities and disruption, and often that division is powered by harmful content.
While such content can be found in any media type, we focus on digital as this is the least regulated environment, with many governments still in the process of defining illegal content. In addition, advertiser transparency and placement controls in user-generated platforms that are open – those with no delay in publishing content – have been underdeveloped.
For advertisers who have invested heavily in these platforms, the danger of seeing their brands next to harmful content has become a major issue. No one wants to be inadvertently funding people intent on causing damage to society.
GARM is looking to create common cross-industry codes that improve industry transparency and control to effectively contain harmful content and remove advertising from any content that damages brands.
Success will be a continual reduction in harmful content on all platforms, underpinned by widely adopted standards, harmonized reporting, independent oversight and common tools.
Any advertiser, media agency, and media platform can join GARM provided they are willing to align with our charter, which calls for uncommon collaboration in confronting this challenge. Member organizations also agree to adopt GARM solutions to improve business operations. Membership currently includes more than 60 of the world’s biggest advertisers, all six major agency holding companies, seven industry groups, and 10 media platforms.
GARM work is developed by members and is based around Working Groups. Each group is formed to address a specific challenge highlighted by the GARM Charter. The Working Groups take these challenges in the form of a brief and work towards solutions, articulating needs and setting milestones for development. The process is managed by the WFA.
GARM has a unique governance model; we have a Steering Team that brings together all the founding organizations – P&G, Unilever, Mars, Diageo, GroupM, 4As, ISBA, ANA, and, of course, the WFA. The Steering Team is responsible for setting priorities for the GARM, addressing impasses and approving solutions. It reports into the WFA Executive Committee.
Solutions developed by the Working Groups are proposed to the Community and are adopted based on Steering Team and Community endorsement.
Our base request is:
- Firstly, they need to attend monthly community calls (90min events focused on best practice sharing, thought leadership and solutions proposal), and;
- Secondly, agreement to adopt and implement solutions both internally and where working with partners.
- Finally, organizations can participate in working groups that meet fortnightly for 70min.
How do you pick a working group/get assigned to it? Do the working group’s focus on different topics?
GARM welcomes volunteers for all Working groups, however, we try to cap them at 10 persons maximum to allow for streamlined participation. Getting involved in a Working Group is as straightforward as sending an email to Rob Rakowitz and asking to join a group. Choosing a group should be based on personal and company interest as well as having the time to make a contribution.
GARM currently has the following Working Groups:
- Advancing Shared Language & Definitions: with a focus on developing a common industry-wide way to agree on harmful content and risk tiers to allow for adequate control within the advertising industry.
- Measurement & Oversight: with a focus on creating a standardized way to report data pertinent to industry health and individual platform progress on safety issues, specifically for marketing stakeholders
- Adjacency Standards & Controls: with a focus on building a shared definition for measuring and managing how advertising placement is managed in digital media around sensiive content types
- Educating Operators & Stakeholders: with a focus on improving the expertise of industry participants whether they are experts or generalists via training tools and events.
GARM runs focus groups on topics related to specific areas of brand safety e.g. kids, or healthcare, which all members can get involved with. We also work with selected media and technology companies to look at product concepts. Additionally, GARM occasionally holds industry events and panels. We offer opportunities to get involved to the Community as they are developed.
In an initial phase, GARM’s goals are:
- Alignment on definitions for harmful content and their adoption across the industry (achieved in Q4 2020);
- Agreement to new measurement and reporting standards with third-party oversight (Q1 2021); and
- Development of new tools that make content detection, classification, and media planning and buying more protected from harmful content (Q3 2021).
We ask that members contribute to our annual expenses, which include staffing, research, events and travel. For more information about the membership fees please reach out to GARM@wfanet.org.
Joining GARM is as easy as completing a membership application and ensuring that executive leadership at your organization endorses participation.
Harmful content online is a significant risk to society and the media industry. We must harness the commitment and the talent of the industry to face this challenge and create a safer, more civil media landscape.