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Mike Fletcher 

Advertising alongside misinformation would see 85% of UK adults boycott brands, finds TAG/BSI

Advertising alongside misinformation would see 85% of UK adults boycott brands, finds TAG/BSI

A majority of UK consumers would boycott or significantly reduce how much they purchased from any brand whose advertising appeared near to Covid-19 conspiracies, according to the 2021 TAG/BSI UK Brand Safety Survey.

The survey, carried out among 802 adults by The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Brand Safety Alliance, found that 85% would stop buying products from a brand that advertised alongside misinformation about the pandemic.

In addition, most consumers said they would curtail purchases from a favourite brand that advertised near hate speech (89%), malware (92%), illegal content (89%), or terrorist recruiting materials (93%).

Some 89% of respondents believe that hate speech has increased online over the past year.

Highlighting the brand safety risk of such content, 72% of respondents felt hate speech should be blocked by advertisers.

The majority of respondents further said advertisers should block pornographic content (73%), violent content (68%), illegal drug-related content (66%), and unsafe or hacked websites (59%).

“The past year has brought forth the four horsemen of toxic content into the advertising ecosystem: death, lies, political poison, and hate speech,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “As brand safety threats quickly evolve, UK consumers are looking to advertising industry leaders to identify and address those types of unsafe and inappropriate content in real time.

“TAG’s Brand Safety Certification sets a rigorous global standard for brand safety across all supply chain participants, while providing the flexibility to adapt to new and emerging challenges.”

According to the survey, four in five consumers said they were more aware of brand safety issues than 12 months ago. While an overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) said that it was important for advertisers to make sure their ads are not placed near dangerous, offensive, or inappropriate content.

From an overall responsibility perspective, UK consumers believe that the industry as a whole should be working together to improve brand safety.

Respondents to the survey said that brand safety responsibility lies roughly equally across all of the major players in the industry, including advertisers (52%), agencies (56%), technology providers (47%), and publishers (54%).

Richard Reeves, Association of Online Publishers MD agrees and sated: “When it comes to tackling industry challenges, collaborative action is often the most powerful. As an industry we need to stand together to recognise and address issues around brand safety, while understanding the complex nuances that exist in a shared ecosystem.

"There needs to be less finger pointing and more collective responsibility to ensure regulations and standards are relevant, transparent and applicable across every aspect of the supply chain.”

ISBA director general, Phil Smith said: “Addressing misinformation and disinformation around Covid-19 and the impact it could have on brands and their customers was one of the first issues ISBA addressed at the beginning of the pandemic. Through working with TAG and other stakeholders we have been able to give our members much needed guidance to ensure their brands are not inadvertently validating or supporting this type of harmful content.”

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