May 2024

Ads in Misinformation: An Ad Effectiveness Experiment | 4A's May 2024

Ads in Misinformation: An Ad Effectiveness Experiment

Building on previous research on consumer perceptions of misinformation, this new MAGNA Media Trials and Zefr study Ads in Misinformation” tested ad effectiveness of standard content (i.e. verified information) against misinformation for brands in the Auto, CPG, Insurance, and Finance industries. The study included more than 2,000 participants in the U.S., who browsed an in-feed social media experience in a controlled, mobile environment. Each participant was randomly served an ad then surveyed to measure their feedback against brand KPIs and ad adjacency. The study found that advertising next to misinformation led to wasted ad dollars for brands, eroded brand perception, and negatively impacted performance KPIs. And while political and AI-generated fake news” can be easier to spot, consumers still are critical of brands that advertise next to it.

Key Findings from the MAGNA Media Trials Study:

Ad Adjacency: Results found that 47% of participants believed a brand’s integrity is compromised when its ads appear next to misinformation.

Political: Regardless of political affiliation or stance, misinformation was found inappropriate, as agreed by 76% of those in the middle, 83% of left-leaning, and 74% of right-leaning.

Generative AI: Misinformation generated by AI is well-spotted, with 36% of participants correctly identifying this type of misinformation, but, despite their fascination, it’s not well- tolerated (64% find it inappropriate for brands to advertise next to misinformation)

Healthcare: Science-related information is tricky to identify because it confuses people. The study found that only 22% of participants could correctly identify healthcare misinformation, while 53% were unsure and 25% thought the information was real.

Climate: For eco-friendly brands, 44% of those surveyed stated they would question a brand’s overall sustainability efforts if its ads appeared next to environmental misinformation. And following the trend of challenges identifying science-related misinformation, most participants who viewed a climate misinformation ad thought the misinformation was real (36%) or were unsure (42%).

Negative Impact on KPIs & Investment: Uncertainty about misinformation causes ads to lose impact in the areas of search intent, brand preference, and brands lose respect and trustworthiness with their most valued customers – not to mention wasting media spend – when their ads appear next to misinformation.

The insights from this MAGNA Media Trial informed the development of new campaign tools and misinformation capabilities that are currently being rolled out across the integrated, end-to-end campaign process delivered by KINESSO for IPG Mediabrands’ clients.

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