We’ve seen how brand adjacency can be harmful to the reputation and credibility of brands, and even lead to consumer boycotts. This brand-safety issue is a result of brand ads appearing alongside extreme or dangerous content, which often gives consumers the impression that the brand itself supports the controversial activity alluded to in that content. But new research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) demonstrates how brands can turn this adjacency into an advantage.
In 2020, the importance of timely, trusted news was amplified as everyone sought updates related to the global pandemic, social injustice, economic uncertainty, and the presidential election. However, while news outlets experienced record viewership, readership, and listenership, advertising dollars had not increased in a commensurate way. In fact, some brands had backed away from advertising on these platforms, citing brand safety and brand suitability fears. The IAB’s new consumer research study, The News Trust Halo: How Advertising in News Benefits Brands, with research partner Magid Research, examines how consumers feel about brands that advertise adjacent to news.
Advertising within the news is brand safe—and increases brand trust and ROI
IAB research findings show that advertising within news is more than just safe for brands, it can increase business results. The study found:
- Consumer trust in brands advertising within news increases because of associations with preferred news sources.
- In addition to increased trust, brands that advertise within news are also more likely to see increases in consumer perception or other positive attributes.
- Consumers are more likely to consider making a purchase after being exposed to a brand’s advertisement within their preferred news sources.
“Earlier this year we launched an initiative that we call ‘News Saves Lives.’ This isn’t hyperbole or an expression, it literally does. Not only is supporting the news critically important and the right thing to do, it is the smart thing for brands as they look to grow their business. News is brand safe, increases brand trust, and drives business results,” said David Cohen, CEO of IAB, in a news release. “Consumers trust brands more when they run adjacent to news, especially breaking news. There is a News Trust Halo for brands that shouldn’t be ignored.”
The vast majority of consumers (84 percent) feel that advertising within the news either increases brands trust or maintains it. By comparison, only 16 percent find brands advertising within the news “much less/a little less trustworthy.” News—even if disconcerting—either increases or has no impact on consumer trust for brands advertising within that content. In fact, fewer than 1 in 10 consumers think sensitive content would have a negative impact on an advertiser within that content, and 1 in 3 consumers trust brands more if they advertise within concerning or upsetting news on their preferred news sources.
There are significant benefits for brands with news adjacency
Advertising within the news increases perception of many positive brand attributes beyond trust—such as likelihood to be believable, relevant, and innovative. In fact, 90 percent of consumers have either a positive or neutral response to brands that advertise within news. Also, nearly half of consumers find brands that advertise in the news to be more customer-focused and engaging, more innovative, and relevant to them.
According to the study, consumers are more likely to take action/make a purchase if they see a brand that advertises in the news.
Fake news? Not a real concern for consumers—at least not in professionally produced news environments
Brands have been wary of advertising near misinformation. Even though 51 percent of consumers agree their trusted news sources can contain content that could be misleading, and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe the sources they avoid are more likely to have fake news or misinformation. Consumers report that misinformation does not have a significant impact on their perceptions of brands with ad adjacencies in those environments.
Cohen concluded, “The idea that reliable news sources have a negative impact on their advertisers is, in fact, a misconception. The bottom line is clear: advertising on news is good for society—and it’s good for business.”
The study is an extension of the IAB ‘News Saves Lives’ campaign that launched in the spring.
The research was conducted in September 2020. Survey results included N=2,029 US adults, 18-54, as well as an oversampling 322 executive-level professionals, 30-64 with job titles of President or C-level executives. The sample was balanced to census by region, gender/age, and ethnicity. All respondents were screened to ensure that they follow national/international news at least weekly, and ensured that none are “complete rejectors” of advertising.