Political PR: Voters on high alert for fake news, ad fraud, and misinformation in 2020

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Public Relations

The 2020 presidential campaign is now in full swing, and political advertising is skyrocketing, with Democratic and Republican campaigns already committing an unprecedented $2.8B to digital media. But voters still feel stung by the effects of the 2016 election, and more than three-quarters (77 percent) say they are concerned about fake news and misinformation this time around, according to a new study by digital ad verification firm Integral Ad Science( IAS).

Political PR: Voters on high alert for fake news, ad fraud, and misinformation in 2020

In the last presidential election, voter engagement with fake news articles on Facebook increased as election day approached, eventually surpassing engagement with mainstream news articles. With digital traffic patterns set to replicate or outperform those from 2016, the possibility of advertising alongside fake news articles presents a challenge for both brands and politicians.

Twitter and Facebook both announced new fact-checking policies after an out-of-context video clip of presidential candidate Joe Biden was posted and shared, whereby labels of “manipulated media” and “partly false information” will be applied to such posts to “help users understand their authenticity and provide additional context.”

IAS found that 76 percent of voters believe that online advertising will play an important role in determining the outcome of the election, and this is especially true among younger audiences.

Political PR: Voters on high alert for fake news, ad fraud, and misinformation in 2020

At the same time, ad fraud spiked around midterm election dates in 2018, corresponding with increased online traffic. It’s no secret that fraudsters follow the money, making the upcoming 2020 election a prime target for fraudulent activity.

Political PR: Voters on high alert for fake news, ad fraud, and misinformation in 2020

About half (51 percent) of respondents in the IAS survey are most concerned about political ad fraud in the 2020 election, and a whopping 86 percent of surveyed voters said that it would be irresponsible for political advertisers not to take measures to prevent online ad fraud. This is especially true among older audiences.

Political PR: Voters on high alert for fake news, ad fraud, and misinformation in 2020

“2020 is poised to be a major year for advertising for both brands and politicians, and there’s no slowing down the boom in news and content around the upcoming presidential election,” said Tony Marlow, chief marketing officer at IAS, in a news release. “Our latest political research explores how and where voters give their attention to political news, and what impact advertising will have on an election expected to bring the highest voter turnout in American history.”

Download the full study results here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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