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VIVID: Virtual Violations Detector

VIVID uses automated artificial intelligence and supervised machine learning to detect advertising violations of the Breastmilk Marketing Code on digital platforms.

A disruptive innovation – A new idea, model, product, or service in an existing market.

Alive & Thrive and FHI Solutions are partnering with the government of Viet Nam and Hekate, a company keen to bring AI technology to social impact project, and the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) Viet Nam. Access the VIVID tool here.

Challenging the Status Quo to Impact Nutrition

Q: What solution is offered by this innovation?

This innovation addresses aggressive marketing taking place within the breastmilk substitute (BMS) industry on digital platforms. In some countries, over 80 percent of exposure to BMS advertisements occurs online. Often, marketing does not overtly appear as advertisements, instead taking the form of baby clubs, advice for parents, and online registrations, which obtain personal information for marketing purposes.

In response, A&T and FHI Solutions developed VIVID (Virtual Violations Detector) in Viet Nam- a digital assistant that scans websites, social media channels, and shopping platforms to identify advertisements that violate breastmilk marketing codes. Viet Nam is one of the top 15 countries in terms of smartphone users. Milk formula companies use Facebook, YouTube, and Google to push advertisements every hour.

Using key text and image recognition, the platform can identify posts that may be violations and match those to specific provisions of the WHO International Code of Marketing and Promotion of Breastmilk Substitutes. The platform gathers all potential violations with an auto-detect function, and violations are confirmed by a human advisor who shares all information with the Ministry for Prosecution.

Q: What is most exciting about VIVID?

The Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Health in Viet Nam are working with A&T to address violations detected by VIVID. According to these government ministries, this tool has proven to be an effective solution to promote a healthy marketing environment in the country.

Vivid scans violations quickly, promptly and on a large scale, which is helpful since the Ministry of Health has only three health inspectors overseeing Code violations. Machine learning keeps VIVID’s capabilities updated and continuously improved. Companies, typically use data-driven algorithms that target digital advertising to women whose online behavior suggests they may be pregnant. Women receive promotions prompted by their search. As such, it is important to build an AI engine with violation scanning algorithms adapted to these brands.

Q: How does Vivid support system wide change?

As marketing increasingly moves into a digital space, innovations such as VIVID help to level the playing field by increasing transparency on exploitative marketing practices.

In Viet Nam, the government recently states that online platforms had to report their advertisement violations annually and remove them within 24 hours when requested. This has provided an important backdrop from which VIVID can support the government and civil society actors to monitor violations systematically.

This solution can scale to other geographies and industries without incurring huge costs as it can leverage designed machine learning algorithms and servers. VIVID requires low maintenance costs while having a great impact in limiting the misleading marketing of unhealthy products.

Looking Ahead: Lessons for our Impact Network

Businesses and advertising companies are increasingly diversifying forms of advertising and taking advantage of legal loopholes to apply cross-marketing. This has made it challenging for VIVID to scan for violation. For example, VIVID will not access information in Facebook closed groups. Understanding and accepting certain challenges, A&T has chosen to optimize what VIVID can do. By selecting the top verified popular Facebook pages, all violations scanned by VIVID are guaranteed to be used as evidence to alert distributors and manufacturers.

Following successful reviews of violations of BMS marketing, we have supported to expand the scope to scan violations related to advertising tobacco and alcohol in digital and cross-border platforms. The VIVID model being used in other countries beyond Viet Nam for BMS, piloting in English-speaking countries including the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia.

Watch our VIVID video!

Read SUN CSA Asia’s blog on how VIVID is helping to fight code violators in Viet Nam

Find out more about our impact pathway