Advertising Near Hate Speech Can Devastate Brands According to This Survey

Social media has brought a lot of benefits to society, but in spite of the fact that this is the case, it has also had the unfortunate side effect of amplifying hate speech. Not only does this create a hostile environment for social media users, but it also has the added disadvantage of causing irreparable harms to brands with all things having been considered and taken into account.

According to a study recently conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with the University of Southern California, advertising near hate speech can be disastrous for brands. In this study, 3000 people were shown a wide range of stimuli from positive to neutral to negative, and they were shown ads on various social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the same time. The study was conducted prior to Twitter being rebranded to X.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that 20% of the people that participated in this study stated that they had a less favorable view of an advertiser if they saw the ad next to hate speech. Furthermore, click through rates for those ads fell by a whopping 35%, indicating that the presence of hate speech can make ads far less effective than might have been the case otherwise.

On the other end of the spectrum, placing ads next to positive images created a considerable improvement in brand perception across the board. When an oral care ad was placed next to a positive post, 66% of respondents said that they liked the brand, whereas just 57% said the same if the ad was placed next to a hateful post. Interestingly enough, neutral messaging turned out to be the most effective of all, with 70% of survey respondents reporting a positive perception after seeing an ad next to a neutral post.

All in all, this survey reveals that the rise in hate speech on social media is inherently unsustainable. It will be interesting to see how platforms tackle this to ensure they keep getting ad dollars.

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