Current Brand Safety Standards Unnecessarily Broad, Stagwell Study Finds

Stagwell has released its first “Future of Newsreport. It shows that current brand safety standards are too broad and harm the news industry.

The study looked at news adjacency ads. It found that ads next to topics like politics, inflation, and crime perform as well as those next to business, entertainment, and sports stories.

The findings showed that among Gen Z, purchase intent for brands with ads next to high-quality news articles on the Middle East conflict was 65%. This was compared to 66% for inflation and 67% for crime. These differences are statistically insignificant.

For sports, a safe news topic, purchase intent was 69%. This shows a minimal four-percentage-point difference between the riskiest and safest topics.

In affluent American households, favorability ratings for brands with ads next to high-quality political news articles on Trump and Biden were each 72%. This was only two percentage points less than brands with ads next to non-political entertainment stories.

Among moms, purchase intent for brands with ads next to articles on inflation and business was 70%. For crime stories, even with titles like “subway shooting,” purchase intent was only two percentage points less.

The study highlighted that blocking ads next to certain words and topics might be unnecessary. Instead of avoiding news, brands should consider advertising in it. News enthusiasts, who make up 25% of Americans, are a valuable and underutilized marketing audience.

By investing in news, advertisers could help break the cycle of news demonetization. This harms quality journalism. Supporting news content financially helps it thrive.

The survey included 49,990 U.S. adults. It was conducted from March 29 to April 19. The data was weighted to represent a national sample of American adults across age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, education, and income.

Stagwell’s study suggests that brand safety considerations need more scientific evaluation. The results show that ads next to currently deemed unsafe news content perform as well as those next to content considered safe.

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