Commenting after several high-profile brands have found themselves targeted by pressure groups and angry consumers after ads for their products unknowingly appeared next to a page making light of violence towards women, Bob Wootton, ISBA's director of media and advertising, told the new-media owners, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."
He said: "Advertisers are rightly concerned with their ads appearing on websites that are bad taste at best and highly offensive, or illegal, at worst. Why should they spend years and millions of pounds establishing their reputation only to have that investment damaged, possibly irrevocably, by something they have virtually no control over?"
Online advertisements are placed "programmatically" by computer programmes that serve the ads individually as web pages are requested. The ads are targeted on the basis of a wide array of information from the user's computer. ISBA has asked to see the sophisticated technology that is employed to target consumers being used to prevent online ads appearing on offensive websites.
Wootton said: "The excuse from the likes of the new-media giants that 'we are just a pipe' is, frankly, wearing thin. They need to honour the trust imbued in them by their clients – the companies that fund them – otherwise they might well see more advertisers taking their cash elsewhere.
"Well-targeted ads use 'anonymised' data so that, for example, those of us who don't own pets will never have to be served a dog or cat food ad, and so on.
"Why can't similarly sophisticated technology be employed to the benefit of the advertiser too? A sincere attempt to answer this question might well stem the flow of advertisers which are leaving social networking sites for less riskier, display advertising alternatives."
Car manufacturer Nissan and building society Nationwide have been among the advertisers to pull ad campaigns from Facebook following the placement of their ads.
Other brands, including American Express, British Airways, Dove, Sky, Easyjet, and Ocado are also being targeted by consumers after ads for their products appeared alongside the same page, leaving Facebook facing the threat of an advertiser backlash over its explicit content.
Yesterday, Facebook pledged to update its policies on hate speech, increase accountability of content creators and train staff to be more responsive to complaints, marking a victory for women's rights activists. Marne Levine, vice president of global public policy at Facebook, admitted in a statement: "We need to do better – and we will."