My colleagues Melissa Parrish, Richard Joyce, Susan Bidel and I spent a lot of time since the US Presidential election researching the effect of the so-called “fake news” epidemic. Why is this so prominent, and why now? The truth is this 2016 election cycle shed an enormous spotlight on a nagging problem for advertisers that existed long before the era of WikiLeaks, PizzaGate, and Breitbart News Network

Today we revealed a new report that assesses the challenge ahead for advertisers, outlines the risks to brands, and provides a prescription for how to protect the ever-increasing budgets that continue to funnel into programmatic advertising.  For the details, read the full report (client access only): Fake News: More Proof That Advertisers Must Choose Quality Over Quantity.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Don’t confuse satire or opinion with fabrication. Understand the difference between what is blatantly fabricated with ill intent vs. satirical (e.g. The Onion) or opinion-based publications. The risk to your brand differs across this spectrum, and so must your mitigation tactics.  
  • Automation is not your enemy. Marketers continue to embrace programmatic media buying because it is a cost effective way to buy ad space. But relying too heavily on 3rd parties to manage those buys adds brand risk associated with ad-fraud and fake news.
  • Publishers are your partners. Relationships between advertisers and publishers have taken a backseat to data and technology partnerships since programmatic advertising has come in vogue. But marketers can help ensure they are buying quality, controllable digital inventory by building stronger publisher partnerships.
  • Brand-appropriate context is priority #1. Marketers must start paying more attention to where their ads appear. The only meaningful way to protect your brand from issues like fake news and ad-fraud is to get more involved in programmatic decision-making.

This research will help marketers make sense of the fake news frenzy and take appropriate action to protect their brands and optimize their ad spend. As always, your feedback is welcome.