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Industry Contributor 10 Feb 2021 - 3 min read

Funding a safer internet: It’s time for adland to #StartTheChat

By Venessa Hunt, General Manager - ThinkPremiumDigital

The industry needs to consider the role it plays in an online ecosystem that can be a dangerous place for many. Before you allocate your ad budget, ask yourself, what type of digital world are you funding?  

What you need to know:

  • This week marked the annual Safer Internet Day.
  • To coincide with the day, the Australian government commissioned research into the digital lives of teenagers and the findings are startling.
  • Teens spent an average of 14.4 hours a week online.
  • 44% of teens had a negative online experience in the six months to September 2020.
  • Thirty percent were contacted by a stranger or someone they didn't know and 20% received inappropriate or unwanted content
  • Given advertising dollars drive and support the structure of the young people’s online experiences, what role are we playing in all of this?

The internet is an integral part of the digital lives of Aussie teens and while their high use of technology offers many benefits, there is a downside.

This week marked the 18th annual Safer Internet Day. Around the world, the primary objective of the day is to make the internet a safer and better place for all, especially children and young people.

To coincide with the day, the Australian government commissioned a research piece which looks at the digital lives of teenagers, how they spend time online and the impact it has on their off-line experiences.

The findings of the research should be shocking to us, but we’ve come to accept this as simply the ways things are; the most startling findings being that 44% of teens had a negative online experience in just a six-month period and that 20% that received unwanted or inappropriate content online.

This year the government is urging Aussies to #StartTheChat to help make the internet better for everyone. The campaign encourages conversation about online safety at home, school, work and in the community.

Given that the free internet is ultimately funded by advertising, this is a chat we as an industry need to be having. In fact, given our position of power, we shouldn’t just be starting the chat, we should be leading it.

The advertising industry is in a direct position to design, shape and adapt services, platforms and content that children and young people interact with on a daily basis.

By investing our brand or client’s budget in the platforms where kids are having these experiences, we must be aware we are contributing to the negative impacts they are having.

All too often, we chose to ignore the grim facts about the dangers of social media platforms, choosing instead to focus on CPMs and inflated audience numbers.

What we should be doing is making decisions about the platforms we want to support, platforms that are, in turn, supporting our kids.

From our perspective, ThinkPremiumDigital’s shareholders – News Corp, Nine, Foxtel, Network 10 and Seven West Media – have committed to publishing a series of articles that explore the government findings and educate the public on the importance of online safety and digital literacy for children and young people.

We have the power to make a safer and better internet, so let’s #StartTheChat about how we can.

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Venessa Hunt, General Manager


Venessa Hunt is the General Manager of ThinkPremiumDigital where she champions the benefits of advertising on the premium digital media assets of Foxtel, Foxtel Media, Nine, News Corp, 10 and Seven West Media. Prior to joining ThinkPremiumDigital, Venessa was the Chief Digital Strategy Officer for GroupM and previously held roles at the organisation including Head of Digital Investment & Partnerships and Head of Mobile. Venessa has 15 years of media industry experience, as well as unmatched expertise in digital media in all of its forms,and is also a board director and ambassador for industry charity UnLtd.   

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