Commentary

Consumers And Ad Execs Align On Misinformation, Sort Of

In the lead-up to National News Literacy Week this week, I fielded two separate studies asking people who should be held accountable for misinformation that causes social harm.

One study, conducted by B2B researcher Advertiser Perceptions, asked a panel of advertiser and agency executives. The second study, conducted by consumer polling platform Pollfish, asked the same question of a panel of 600 U.S. adults.

What we found was that ad execs -- both advertisers and agencies -- are in unison with consumers that media owners should be held liable if and when they disseminate harmful misinformation.

The finding is one of those rare times that I've conducted parallel consumer and trade surveys that actually aligned on the subject of media.

However, when we asked a second question -- whether advertisers should also be held accountable when they sponsor media that spread misinformation that causes social harm -- there was more of a disconnect.

Not surprisingly, more consumers (about two-thirds) believe advertisers are accountable for sponsoring misinformation, while only half of ad execs do. (Interestingly, advertisers are a little tougher on themselves than their agency counterparts are on the subject.)

Look for other coverage related to National News Literacy Week, which was founded three years ago by the News Literacy Project, including a special roundtable discussion on Friday featuring some top advertising and media executives that I'll be moderating -- and covering -- to examine the "business" of media misinformation, and what can be done about it.

If you have ideas about that topic, and/or questions you think I should ask, email me at joe@mediapost.com.

2 comments about "Consumers And Ad Execs Align On Misinformation, Sort Of".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 24, 2022 at 11:51 a.m.

    I wonder  how many of the 600 consumer respondents realized that in most cases advertisers who "sponsor" TV news have nothing to say about their content are merely buying time in their commercial breaks. In fact, looking at the second table, one might ask the same question about the 120 "advertisers" who responded.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, January 24, 2022 at 11:58 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: I don't know that they were responding explicitly about advertisers sponsoring TV news, so much as media companies -- especially social media platforms -- that disseminate misinformation. With a couple of noteable exceptions, most TV news outlets are not considered to be disseminating misinformation.

    That said, IPG Mediabrands plans to begin rating TV news outlets via NewsGuard, so we'll see how that nets out this year.

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