For years now, the advertising industry has reckoned with a growing mandate to restore trust across the ecosystem, covering a range of issues from ad fraud to data privacy to brand and content safety. Marketers have been willing to overlook lapses to make their numbers, but now the scales have tipped toward trust. This summer, we found that 54% of advertisers now weigh a media brand’s trustworthiness among consumers before committing to it.
As advertisers reallocate money they had earmarked for the Summer Olympics, we can expect a hyperactive selling season starting now. There’s ample opportunity for many types of media providers. To seize it, though, sellers will need to go beyond delivering quality audiences in simple yet profound ways. Paramount among them is deepening advertisers’ trust.
Advertisers continue to navigate uncertainty caused by the pandemic along with social and economic unrest, and therefore share a reluctance to make long-term commitments. They need more counsel more often from the professionals selling them solutions. For starters, they want deeper data and insights to help with strategic decision-making – on target audiences, their competitive landscape and for campaign planning. And they expect more sophisticated help translating the data picture into alternate media mixes across a seller’s portfolio on a flexible basis.
These selling upgrades represent a new table-stakes in advertising. But the longer-term differentiator is trust, and it is decisive. Advertisers are looking intently at media providers’ handling of content and data policies, and lapses in these areas will have increasing impact on their investment in platforms.
The GroupM Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing Report recently found that 75% of consumers feel it’s a digital platform’s responsibility to eliminate inappropriate content. We’ve seen the backlash this summer in the advertiser boycott of Facebook around hate speech and misinformation on the platform. It is a strong signal of a new era of scrutiny of media companies’ policies and practices around content, and the levels of brand safety or “suitability” they can ensure.
What’s more, advertisers are focusing more on big media’s handling of consumer data. As consumers become less willing to buy from companies they feel abuse their personal data, advertisers are considering data as a pillar of brand reputation management, and are holding media to higher standards on data practices.
Earlier this year, we found that 35% of advertisers decreasing spending with major media platforms did so because they don’t trust the way those platforms handle consumer data – an 18-point increase from 2019. And 42% said they will now downgrade a media partner on these grounds despite its performance on a ROAS basis. Only 17% won’t downgrade a high-performing partner over privacy.
When we look at the overall factors that determine ad spending, trust-related attributes outweigh performance attributes 56% to 44%.
As a result, media need to take two urgent actions.
First, audit content safety policies to ensure the overall environment is brand suitable. Go beyond brand safety tools and filters. While brand suitability standards vary by advertiser, all target divisive and hateful content, blatant disinformation and propaganda – so pay special attention to extreme claims without factual backup. Advertisers are looking for media to take strong stands on content.
Second, adopt and promote privacy by default. In a post-CCPA/GDPR world, advertisers increasingly see privacy as a pillar of values-based marketing. They want media companies to articulate their data policies in plains language and demonstrate how they’re protecting privacy across their entire organizations.
As more consumers and advertisers consider media’s impact on the digital ecosystem, trust becomes a leadership opportunity for media brands. Showing the way to a safer experience will be a primary sales advantage.
Sarah Bolton is EVP/Business Intelligence at Advertiser Perceptions.