Delta and Kellogg Join IBM’s Promise to Fight Prejudice in Online Ad Targeting

Delta And Kellogg Join Ibm’s Promise To Fight Prejudice In Online Ad Targeting

OAKLAND, California. (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines Inc., Kellogg Co. and several major advertising agencies pledged on Monday to tackle unwanted biases in algorithms that amplify their online advertising.

The move, announced as part of an advertising industry conference in Cannes, France, is one of the biggest steps taken to ensure that stereotypes related to gender, race and other characteristics do not unfairly decide who the ad is shown to.

The increasing use of automated software for ad buying, increased attention to diversity, and the increasing risk of scrutiny from consumer protection regulators have brought immediate importance to this issue.

Advertisers and agencies will use algorithms and guidelines from IBM Corp. to identify the audience’s propensity for ads and balance them. IBM began testing the device internally a year ago. They are free, but may require additional staff to use.

Advertisers recognize that the adjustment may mean fewer clicks for a while, but more inclusive actions will eventually increase sales.

“Anything we can do to fight for greater equity has a huge impact on the business,” said Shannon Womack, Delta’s director of US brand marketing.

In tests, Mindshare’s WPP Plc agency found that unnamed merchandise companies targeted online ads to most women because shoppers were more common. The equality determined by sharing ideas can be improved sixfold across different measures of impact, including more male audiences, with the margin of error in buyer-related predictions shrinking below two percentage points.

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“We can start to break the cycle of some old beliefs,” said Adam Gerhart, global chief executive of Mindshare, which considers IBM a customer. “The biggest decision [of becoming a buyer] maybe it’s not your gender, but your role in the house or other characteristics.”

Agencies Dentsu Group Inc and Publicis Groupe SA, as well as advertising technology companies Criteo SA and Magnite Inc also signed the pledge, IBM said.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave, editing by Louise Heavens)

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