GroupM’s Rachel Glasser on Using Data and Digital Targeting for Good

When it comes to advertising, it’s important to act responsibly. Whether it’s making only accurate product claims, collecting and using data responsibly, or respecting consumer choices, the industry has an imperative to make a positive impact on society at the same time it drives business.

Too often advertising gets a bad rap, but the amount of good it stimulates for companies that employ workers whom are also consumers — and to economies — cannot be over-stated.  Advertising is also often used to directly support charitable organizations and government entities for the specific purpose of helping the public.  

The Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) is a shining example. Since 1996, the use of radio, Internet and wireless SMS technology on behalf of the emergency alert system has proven successful in informing the public of severe weather conditions and other emergencies like child abductions or threats of terrorism. Smartphone users are now accustomed to seeing these notifications, typically accompanied by a vibration or sound, depending on phone settings. The importance of these alerts is self-evident, but evolving technologies and consumer behaviors have required innovations to ensure the emergency alert system is as state of the art as commercial communications practices.

In 2013, the FIA was created through an initiative by GroupM and Conversant, with cooperation from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  Many other companies, networks and exchanges soon embraced the opportunity to support the program. The idea was to use ad targeting and data for good. The FIA brings geo-targeted advertising technology to real-time emergency communications. In emergencies, it facilitates real-time AMBER alerts and severe weather alerts in place of online and mobile advertising.

Together, the group developed a way to expand the reach and maximize the effectiveness of emergency alerts on various types of mobile devices — phones or tablets — as well as desktop computers. The FIA system uses a method different from the traditional emergency outreach systems in order to alert users of danger. This coalition from the online environment works together to send out weather warnings and missing children notifications through a central hub, which draws in the alert data through several publicly available feeds from law enforcement agencies. The FIA has worked to continuously to ensure maximum reach, extending its online distribution of life-critical alerts to help authorities reach people in the impacted area through improved availability and use of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) for imminent threat alerts all over the world.

So far, the FIA has served over 800 million AMBER alert impressions since 2011 and more than 10 million tornado warnings since 2012. Incredibly, these alerts have also helped rescue 794 abducted children.

On May 16 the FIA gained significant industry acknowledgment by winning an esteemed Webby Award for the second year in a row. “I have never felt more positive about the direction of FIA, and for this nonprofit organization’s ability to deliver cutting edge, ad technology driven services to save lives globally,” said Jason Bier, President of FIA, when he received the award.

GroupM is extremely proud to have spearheaded this program. This organization is a shining example of how the ad industry is able to apply technology, beyond offering messages about goods and services, to support the public good with live-saving messaging. Not only does this demonstrate the power of innovation and the many applications a specific technology can have, but also the commitment of those in the industry to do good. The FIA continues to be a communal effort and is constantly encouraging new partners to join to continue to use their powerful voice and advertising technology to save lives.

As appeared on

Written by Rachel Glasser, Director of Privacy at GroupM

Reaching People With A Life Saving Message

For twenty years, January 13th has marked AMBER Alert Awareness Day, a somber day of remembrance of the abduction and murder of 9 year old Amber Hagerman.  Since then, the use of Internet technology—specifically from ad technology innovations—has lead a revolution in ways alerts are delivered to warn of severe weather and prevent child predators from doing the unthinkable.

The Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) is one such organization unifying the ad industry to save lives with real-time alerts, such as AMBER Alerts, in the digital space.  And with partners like GroupM, AOL, Rocketfuel, xAd, AppNexus, Conversant and more lending their expertise, resources and inventory, FIA has made a tremendous impact.

FIA has served 800-plus million AMBER Alert impressions since 2011 and 10-plus million tornado warnings since 2012. But most importantly, the ability to issue alerts has helped rescue 794 abducted children and return them to their families.

We’re only scratching the surface of what we can achieve together if more companies join us to focus on how the progress in our industry can be repurposed to help alert the public.  Just as technology advancement and device proliferation have altered the ways in which we can engage consumers, so too can our innovations in ad tech offer new and significant ways to enhance how we reach the public during times of imminent crisis.

One such example is FIA’s use of donated cloud technology from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help fuel FIA’s Global Free Alert Hub. The Hub leverages AWS’s cloud technology and the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), an official alerting schema that brings alerting authorities’ capabilities into the Digital Age, to allow the Internet of Everything to receive imminent threat notifications quickly and promulgate them securely to devices with alerting capabilities or artificial intelligence.

Similarly, commercial technologies that allow us to reach individuals with dynamic creative are highly effective at reaching people when it’s needed most. And the metrics and insights we gather and meticulously scrutinize with advertisers can also help identify those channels that have the greatest impact when issuing alerts.

The application of learnings swings both ways.

FIA’s work is greatly expanding ways to creatively reach citizens who are not consuming mass media via traditional methods of TV or radio. For example, China’s Public Weather Service Center is supporting FIA’s approach to better support ways by which it can reach China’s mobile culture to alert millions of people when they are not at home.

As the Internet further enables organizations to compete and create efficiencies in the everyday lives of consumers, FIA offers a non-competitive place that gives companies, NGOs, non-profits and alerting authorities a way to come together for the purpose of leveraging these efficiencies when critical alerts need to be delivered.

Reaching the right people at the right place and time with the right granular message isn’t a practice we should limit to selling goods and services. The more organizations that rally to the cause—to add media display inventory or technology support—the faster we’ll be able to move forward to use the Internet to save lives in local communities around the world.

As appeared in Mediapost

Contributed by Jason Bier, Chief Privacy Officer at Conversant and Lead Representative of the Federation for Internet Alerts

FIA Presents at the Mobile Marketing Association Summit

On September 28th, FIA participated in the 2015 Mobile Marketing Association SM2 Innovation Summit in New York. Held annually, the MMA summit brings together mobile marketers to discuss the latest trends and accomplishments within the industry. Presenting alongside one of our mobile partners, xAd, and a representative from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, FIA was showcased in front of a packed audience. Our session was a fantastic opportunity to show the incredible power of our technology and its use for social good.

Before we took the stage, Carly Rae Jepsen did a quick 15-minute set, including her hit song Call Me Maybe. This was a great opening act to our presentation titled The Power of Place When It Matters Most. With the crowded amped from Jepsen’s performance, Monica Ho, Director of Marketing & Infrastructure at xAd, took the stage and began by talking about the developments and changes that have occurred in mobile technology. Some of these statistics have seen astronomical growth in the past few years – for example, today the average person checks their phone 221x each day, about once every 4.3 minutes! Monica’s discussion about the growth of mobile marketing was a great foundation for the rest of the presentation.

After learning about the mobile industry’s developments, Bob Hoever, Director at NCMEC, spoke about the history of the AMBER Alert program. For many in the room, this was their first time hearing about how this program began. They were impressed to see the advances in alerting procedures as tech innovations became more mainstream. Bob ended his presentation by discussing many of the procedures in place today, including the work that FIA is doing within the emergency alerting space.

At this point, I was able to give the history of the FIA program, including the background of our partnership with NCMEC and the National Weather Service, as well as provide some enlightening statistics about the growth of our program since its inception. Attendees were particularly interested in the technology, including the alerting methods that we have in place as well as the innovations of the FIA Push Hub and the FIA Global Alert Hub.

With so many technology trailblazers in the room, we thought it would be a good idea to brainstorm solutions to a new problem. Bob shared his experiences with alerts for individuals with autism – as these do not qualify as AMBER Alerts, there is a different emergency alerting protocol. Children with autism are prone to wander, and many of these lost children are drawn to bodies of water and drown. We broke the session into different groups to discuss other alerting procedures and were impressed with the variety of different ideas. From wearable tracking devices to alerting apps to beacons, each group presented a plethora of interesting and new ideas to be considered when moving forward.

Participating at this year’s Mobile Marketing Association summit was a fantastic experience for FIA. We were thrilled to be able to share our story and participate in the next chapters of emergency alerting discussions. We are very much looking forward to another collaborative session between xAd and NCMEC in the future!

Contributed by Jacob Goldstein, Associate Director, FIA.

Citizen AOL Partners With FIA for Distributing Critical Alerts Across AOL


Making a difference is in our DNA.

AOL plays a powerful role in bringing communities together, raising awareness & educating individuals through our content, distribution and platforms. AOL is the only major publisher to donate space on our homepage every day to organizations that are changing lives, improving outcomes and helping people around the world reach their potential.

As part of AOL’s commitment to addressing the world’s biggest challenges, we are proud to partner with the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) whose sole mission is to distribute life-saving information in real time. This partnership is a part of AOL’s emergency action effort, CARES (Citizen AOL Responds to Emergency Situations).

As part of this partnership, AOL is reserving premium inventory across our platform to support FIA and push out their amber alerts across desktop, mobile and video. For such an important and sensitive campaign, FIA not only needed a high quality set of inventory with an engaged audience to trust its brand with, but a technology partner guaranteed to maintain that controlled, brand safe- and viewable- environment. We created a private marketplace with Conversant using AOL’s MARKETPLACE by ADTECH, giving access to AOL’s most premium inventory, in recognition of our devotion to this cause. Last quarter alone, over 6 million impressions were served on behalf of FIA.

To date, AOL has donated more than 75 billion impressions valuing over $143 million to over 500 nonprofits that our teams, advertisers and consumers care about. We will continue to do what we can through our pro bono Public Service Announcement (PSA) program, which FIA is leveraging to send out critical and life-saving amber alerts.

For more information on AOL’s citizenship efforts, follow us on Twitter at @AOLCSR.

Reposted from Aol Advertising

FIA Free Alert Hub

We are pleased to announce the official launch of FIA’s Alert Hub, a free cloud service that provides robust scalability, availability, performance and reliability to the alerting community. The FIA Free Alert Hub (Hub) supports the pulling and immediate pushing of alerts from the Hub to those who are in need of critical and life-saving information.

Why did FIA develop this Hub? Accessing alerts quickly and easily was a challenge due to the lack of standard formats, closed alert networks, and decentralized access to CAP on the Internet. Realizing the power of the Internet and innovations in ad technology, we designed this completely open and free Hub that utilizes the newest form of standardized alerting schema: CAP.

While this service doesn’t replace existing alerting systems or technology, the goal is to accelerate the evolution of CAP. We expect the Hub to spur innovations that will help the Internet of Things (“IoT”) to utilize alerting for serious and imminent threats. The Hub was designed to encourage local ideas and community solutions across societies around the world. Finally, in an effort to help predictive analytics in natural disasters, we’ll store all CAP alerts in the cloud for fundamental research purposes at no cost.

The Hub will provide equal access to everyone. And as we continue to garner support from local alerting authorities and other organizations that are in a position to help, we’d like to thank our existing alerting authorities and partners for their ongoing support. We look forward to a future where the Hub can play a small role in leveraging the Internet’s strength and agility to help save lives and protect property – all around the globe.

Contributed by Jason Bier, Chief Privacy Officer at Conversant and Lead Representative of the Federation for Internet Alerts

A Record 100M+ Life-Saving AMBER Alert Impressions in July & August, Using Conversant’s Technology

Through FIA’s efforts, and with the help of Conversant’s technology, people are engaging at record levels to help find children in grave danger.

In July and August, more than 100 million FIA Partner dynamic AMBER Alert messages were served to 27.8 million devices. This record number resulted in 163,970 people downloading AMBER Alert posters concerning a child abduction in their area.

In AMBER Alert’s early beginnings in the late 1990s, its system worked well enough, announcing abduction details in local areas via radio and television broadcasts. But as people spent more time on their computers, phones and tablets, there was a huge opportunity to reach far more people, faster, online.

In 2011, FIA Partners started sending life-saving alerts to the devices of people in target areas with the help of Conversant (now part of Epsilon), one of FIA’s founders. The partnership makes perfect sense: With our powerful platform, we’re able to identify and reach 145 million verified people, nationwide, with an accuracy rate of 95%. FIA has the life-saving information; we have the audience that can be reached in real time.

When law enforcement requests an all-media call to action, the massive system goes into effect automatically. It triggers a chain reaction across ad platforms, as Conversant notifies other FIA Partners electronically within milliseconds.

And FIA continues to expand its partners and the types of all-hazard, all-media threats this technology can respond to globally.

In July and August, our partnership broke records, becoming the largest delivery months on record:

  • 100M+ AMBER Alert dynamic messages were served by FIA and its partners.
  • 27.8M unique devices received AMBER Alerts.
  • 163,970 AMBER Alert posters were downloaded by people who clicked on alerts.

Our continued partnership—which earned a Webby Award in April—will bring more life-saving alerts into the hands of the people who need them the most, precisely when they need them.

Contributed by Raju Malhotra, SVP Product Management, Conversant

Amber…Could Have Been Saved

Amber…Could Have Been Saved. Five powerful words that represent a mission we are so proud to be part of. I had the privilege of sitting next to Sheriff Dee Anderson, founder of AMBER Alerts, in New York City as the Sheriff gave his acceptance speech at the Webby Award Ceremony on behalf of the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) in the Advertising & Media’s Public Service & Activism category. The Webby Awards, which recognize excellence on the Internet, is known for their 5-word acceptance speeches and I can’t think of a more powerful way to express the meaning behind the work we are doing with FIA.

It was an honor to have Sherriff Anderson and Senior Investigator Gary Kelly of the New York State Police Special Victims Unit and New York State AMBER Alert Coordinator join us to hear firsthand accounts about the impact FIA has on helping to save lives. NYPD Commander Lieutenant Christopher Zimmerman was supposed to join us at the reception. However, due to an unexpected police emergency he was unable to attend. This was a strong reminder to me about how our efforts to help law enforcement officials do their jobs is a serious responsibility and of immense importance to them as they work very hard to protect the public.  These heroes risk their lives every day protecting our families.

While it was an honor to be the winner of the 2015 People’s Voice Webby Award, as the lights dimmed on the Webby stage I quickly realized that the mission remains, and the light shines ever brighter, to distribute life-saving information in real-time and get these messages in front of the right people, at the right time. Earlier this week we announced the expansion of the global emergency communications network with the addition of new partners and are pleased to have AOL, AppNexus, Rocket Fuel and xAd join FIA to significantly increase the reach and global impact of the network, which now delivers 30 billion real-time messages each day worldwide.

When Sheriff Anderson founded AMBER Alerts in 1996, he said he never imagined being able to communicate these alerts to millions of people in real-time in the way we are doing it. The coalition of ad technology companies, networks and exchanges that have come together to support this initiative is a true testament to the industry’s commitment to using technology and data for good. As I told Sheriff Dee Anderson, on behalf of FIA, I am very proud to share this commitment with others as well, and when there is an AMBER Alert we will be there in full force.

There’s still a lot more that needs to be done and I look forward to continuing to extend the reach and global impact of FIA.

Contributed by Bryan Kennedy Chief Executive Epsilon/Conversant

Amber Alerts: Creating a Better Internet Through Social Responsibility

As the CEO of the world’s largest independent ad tech company whose mission is to create a better Internet, I am constantly looking for opportunities to leverage our voice, our dollars, and our technology for social good. I am inspired by how often I see people take to the Internet to rally around valuable causes, whether raising awareness, funding research, or celebrating the accomplishments of others. Today, AppNexus takes part in an incredibly important initiative to help protect one of our most precious and most vulnerable groups: our children.

Many of you know that since AMBER Alerts were first instituted in 1996, they have been broadcast nationwide to inform the public and law enforcement about missing or abducted children. Deployed via radio, billboards, TV stations, and SMS, AMBER Alerts have resulted in the rescue of more than 650 children. Recently, in an effort to capitalize on the Internet’s reach and scope, AMBER Alerts have been broadcast across new channels, including Facebook.

The Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA) recently announced that AOL, AppNexus, Rocket Fuel and xAd have joined its roster of partners. This expanded coalition will significantly extend the reach and global impact of the network, which now serves more than 30 billion real time messages each day worldwide, not only for AMBER Alerts but also for other regional emergencies including severe weather events. FIA has brought more than 500 million dynamic AMBER Alert impressions to more than 100 million devices during 686 abductions, driving record traffic to AMBER Alert posters on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website that can be shared or printed to assist in locating the child.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and AppNexus is committed to leveraging our technology to help protect them. It is FIA’s mission, and now ours, to “make every second count” with these real time alerts. We are grateful to FIA for the important work it does, and are proud to partner with them on our journey to create a better Internet.

Contributed by Brian O’Kelley, CEO at AppNexus

We’re in NYC for the Webby’s

The team has arrived in NYC for the big day. As stated in our last blog, FIA won the 2015 People’s Voice Webby Award for Advertising & Media for Public Service & Activism. We are humbled to be part of the award ceremony and are even more excited about the potential this exposure will bring to FIA and our mission.

While our cause is serious, this is a night of celebration hosted by comedian Hannibal Buress. The awards will feature a wide range of winners from Ellie Kemper for her performance in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe of Wired Magazine. It’s sure to be a night to remember. We invite you to tune into The Webby’s YouTube channel tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19th for coverage of the event. Be sure to look for our smiling faces.

Congrats to all the winners, we’ll see you tonight!

Contributed by Emily Marron, Copywriter at Conversant