Yes, Bad Adjacencies Hurt Brands

Sometimes, conventional wisdom is spot on.

Deeply risk-averse by nature, marketers and brand managers have long taken it for granted that allowing their advertising to appear next to offensive or disturbing content will have a negative impact on consumer perceptions — they are right.

In the wake of controversy over ads appearing next to extremist content and fake news on YouTube, Facebook and other social-media platforms, a new study from the CMO Council suggests consumers take a favorable view of brands that advertise on established, reputable media channels.

Conversely, they punish those that appear next to questionable content. The CMO Council notes its findings are especially relevant in light of the rise of programmatic advertising platforms, which have been criticized for a lack of transparency in how and where they deliver ads.

The survey of over 2,000 consumers in the U.S. and UK revealed widespread concern among consumers about bogus or offensive content: 75% of respondents said they’re worried about the growing prevalence of fake or biased news sites.



Some 60% said they are making a conscious effort to get content from more trustworthy sources.

Further, 63% of respondents said they respond more positively to ads appearing on trusted news sites than they do ads appearing on social media, search results. or fake news sites. And 66% said they have less respect for brands that appear near hateful, offensive or upsetting content.

This has real consequences for their purchase decisions, as 48% said they would consider dumping brands that allow ads to appear in such contexts, with some taking even more extreme steps. Thus, 37% said it would change their purchase decisions, 11% said they would consider boycotting the brand, and 9% said they would actively complain about the brand.

Of course, bad adjacencies aren’t the only concern, as consumers also take a dim view of ads that are simply annoying in themselves. The top complaints were intrusive pop-up style ads, cited by 22% of respondents, and auto-play video ads, cited by 17%; 9% said they are annoyed by ads that appear before the Web site loads.

These bad experiences pose a threat to the whole ad ecosystem: 41% of respondents said they are already using some form of ad-blocking software, while 14% said they’re thinking about it.

1 comment about "Yes, Bad Adjacencies Hurt Brands".
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  1. Jennifer Silverberg from SmartCommerce, June 14, 2017 at 10:59 a.m.

    Appreciate and agree with the content, which was hard because I so vehemently disagree with the first line!  The marketers and brand managers I've worked with are among the LEAST risk-averse (sorry for the double-negative) people I've known.  Great marketing embraces risk, and sometimes even uses it as a lever!  

    Having said that, appearing next to bad news is not what I'd call risky - based on the data you show, it would just be dumb.  Thanks again for the info.

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