Brand Love Means Nothing When Ads Run Next To Offensive Content, CMO Council Says

About half of consumers surveyed for a study released Tuesday said they would think twice before purchasing products or even boycott a brand's products and services if they learned their ads ran near offensive content.

Some 37% of the 2,000 adult consumers surveyed in the United States, Canada and the UK said objectionable content or fake news sites would change the way they think about a brand when making a decision to make purchases, according to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

The study confirms that when consumers find the content to be objectionable, 11% said they would not do business with that brand, and 9% would become vocal critics of the brand.

Using Pollfish's platform to conduct the study, the CMO study found that 48% of consumers will even abandon brands they love if their ads run alongside offensive online content.

Dave Murray, VP with the CMO Council, said serving ads next to objectionable content make consumers lose respect for the brand. Marketers also have concerns about their content serving up next to content that doesn’t align with their "brand values."



Murray also said consumers are concerned about offensive political rhetoric or showing a bias toward one point of view or another. "What's objectionable for one viewer is not objectionable to another," he said. "In a world in which there is so much political separation, it's a difficult terrain to negotiate."

The report also found that content on social media platforms is still not trusted. Although they listed social media as the source of the second-highest volume of ad messages they receive — behind television — consumers ranked social media last among their five most trusted channels.

Some 63% of consumers respond more positively to the same ads when they find them on established media channels. In fact, they ranked friends, TV, search engines and newspapers as more trusted sources.

About 60% of consumers participating in the study said offensive context had already caused them to find more content from trusted, well-known news sources and established media channels.

Marc Pritchard, P&G CMO, notes that recently the industry has seen "more crappy advertising accompanied by even crappier viewing experiences."

Respondents said they either already had or planned to install some form of ad-blocking software to their mobile devices or PC browsers. Slightly more than 40% have already installed ad-blocking software on their devices, while another 13.7% said they planned to add these features.

Meanwhile, 86% of consumers are either extremely concerned, very concerned or moderately worried about how easily they are directed or redirected to hateful or offensive content.

Some 22% said the most annoying digital advertising formats were intrusive pop-up ads, and 17% pointed to auto-playing video ads. 

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