Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a company’s commitment to operating ethically and responsibly, going beyond its core business functions to contribute positively to society.

A CSR program is commonly supported by Responsible Media – media content, messaging, and activation used to enhance, promote, and align brands and businesses with responsible practices. This can include integrating environmental, economic, and social issues into advertising and marketing operations, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and consumer privacy.

Responsible media practices are commonly recognised by marketing alliances such as WFA GARM or Ad Net Zero. Marketing agencies and brands are following established principles by implementing recommendations and guidance from these groups to align on industry standards.

For brands with existing taskforces dedicated to responsible media projects, as well as account teams with general inquiries and interest in sustainability, DE&I and other related topics, we prepared this quick overview to outline key terms, considerations and partners.

Pillars of Responsible Media include:


Sustainability fosters positive contributions to sustainable living, emphasises accountability for environmental impact, and supports various green initiatives. For example:

  • Crafting content with a sustainability messages (e.g., promoting sustainable packaging, encouraging recycling, etc.).
  • Targeting sustainable-oriented inventories and audiences.
  • Implementing measurement tools to access and be held accountable for media’s environmental impact (CO2 calculators, minimising media wastage) and prioritise transparency for energy consumed by data centres, content delivery and end-service user.
  • Improving supply chain infrastructure, powering responsible media programs, and reconfiguring infrastructure to eliminate inefficiencies.

Key partnerships play a crucial role in enabling the measurement of CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Notable partners such as Scope3, Good Loop, and Cedara work closely with media platforms to capture and calculate carbon emissions. Reporting through Ad Verification tools (e.g., Publicis Lighthouse, ALICE), DSPs (e.g., AdForm, Yahoo), Bid Optimization platforms (e.g., Bidtellect, Green Bids), and Publishers (e.g., Teads, GumGum) further facilitate Scope3 reporting.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

DE&I initiatives focus on measuring and celebrating representation across national, ethnic, gender, sexual, and religious groups through media. Examples include:

  • Developing inclusive creative expressions (featuring diverse influencers, addressing inclusive topics and themes).
  • Measuring outreach to minority groups through media channels.
  • Targeting DE&I inventories and audiences across various media channels.

Strategic partnerships are essential for obtaining detailed user analytics, potentially including data on ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual audience cohorts. Only a select few media actors, such as Publicis DIME, Brand Advance for the open web, or Pixability and Channel Factory for YouTube, possess the capabilities to target and measure minority groups. These partners build allowlists, PMPs, and Deals that advertisers can leverage to improve their KPIs related to DE&I reach. Publicis Once and For ALL Coalition can provide recommendations in alignment with ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive Multicultural Marketing for multi-cultural content creative development and representation of ethnically diverse suppliers.

Data Ethics

Data ethics increase a business’s responsibility for the handling of customer and media data, emphasising transparency for end-users. For instance:

  • Ensuring data transparency by providing users with visibility into how their data will be used.
  • Implementing measures to protect and restrict access to customer data.
  • Integrating tools addressing potentials bias coming from machine learning and AI
  • Safeguarding brand exposure through ad verification partners

There are few general practices that can increase transparency for users. The introduction of consent management platforms, such as OneTrust and TrustArc, allows users to opt-out of data collection. Data clean rooms, exemplified by InfoSum and Live Ramp, protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) shared across advertisers. Opting for identity-free, cohort-based targeting, as offered by partners like Publicis DSF and Dstillery, aligns with ethical standards. Zenith-approved ad verification partners such as IAS, Double Verify, as well as content verification partners such as NewsGuard provide a layer of essential brand safety in media activation. The value of ethical measurement can be established through brand surveys or social monitoring indexes focused on specific topics that brands seek to align with.


What are the benefits?

Responsible media is not a solution, but rather a tool to facilitate brand association with positive and good-good practices that help a brand’s reputation. This includes:

  • Transparency: Help build brand credibility and trust with the audience.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Promote DE&I by providing a platform for underrepresented voices and perspectives. Ensure that all user groups are heard and that different perspectives are considered.
  • Cultural awareness: Highlight different cultures, traditions, and customs. This can help foster understanding and respect for different audience groups and promote diversity.
  • Personal development: Provide individuals with information on self-improvement, education, career development, and other topics that can help improve lives. Shift cultural and societal opinion through the positive upskilling and education of younger generations.
  • Social justice: Report on issues related to inequality, discrimination, and injustice, to raise awareness of these issues.

The future of Responsible Media

We are seeing more advertisers and brands invest resources in Responsible Media practices. It’s likely that companies will establish dedicated taskforces to create non-performance based KPIs and independent budget allocation towards Sustainability, DE&I, and Data Ethics initiatives. Which will contribute to overall CSR pillars that build brand credibility, positioning, and overall image. We can accelerate adoption of such principles and priorities for brands by introducing more Responsible Media workstreams today.

To assist with the initiatives, Publicis has a spectrum of tools to provide a strong offering for Responsible Media goals: A.L.I.C.E, Lighthouse, Decision Science Framework (DSF), Diversity Inclusion Media Exchange (DIME), Once & For ALL Coalition, as well as Dragon Fly’s YT Enhance can help our clients to achieve Responsible Business objectives through media.


Written by Vlad Novikov, Ad Tech Director at Zenith Global.

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