Brands are right to avoid misinformation online

An IAS survey found that ads appearing near false or misleading content eroded trust and brand perception among consumers.

Advertisers and their media agencies generally agree that their ads appearing near false or misleading content is a quick way to erode trust in a brand. But do consumers feel the same way?

That’s something Integral Ad Science was looking to find out when it polled 1,189 adult internet users in July to gauge how they feel about brand responsibility when it comes to online misinformation.

In a previous IAS poll from May, marketing industry experts said one of their leading concerns is the potential impact on a brand’s reputation if their ads appear adjacent to misleading content, with 73% agreeing that ad buyers and sellers must avoid misinformation. A further 42% said they were concerned about the┬áimpact on their company’s reputation in the event of an adjacency near misinformation. What’s more, with the proliferation of misinformation online, 42% are concerned about this leading to trust in legitimate online content being eroded as well, leading to brand perception problems even if their ads appear near something truthful.

Consumers are aligned with advertiser concerns, if not more aware of the issue: 80% believe misinformation is a serious issue in digital media, with 71% saying they regularly encounter misinformation when browsing online, leaving brands at risk of ads appearing near misleading content.

Those surveyed say they have a negative view of brands that advertise near misinformation, with 73% of consumers saying they agree or strongly agree that they would feel unfavorably towards brands that have been associated with misinformation. Consumers are also likely to take action and remember when a brand’s ads appear near misinformation, with 63% saying they are likely or very likely to remember brands that advertise next to misinformation, and 65% of consumers say that they are likely or very likely to stop buying from a brand that advertises next to misinformation.

When thinking of what misinformation, they consider many different types of content under this category. That includes the obvious, like misleading or fabricated content. But for some consumers, it also includes false or missing context, making false connections between information and propaganda.

A majority of consumers (62%) believe advertisers, agencies and publishers are equally responsible for ads appearing near misinformation. Others (16%) say advertisers are responsible; 14% say publishers are responsible; and 7% say agencies are responsible.

Brands that actively denounce misinformation are perceived more positively by 67% of consumers. A majority believe that trust in a brand is crucial to their purchasing decisions, and 69% of consumers say their level of trust influences their decision to engage with a brand’s products and services.

Featured image by axel2001.