From fake news to news clean-up.

Predictions for 2017
The concept of post-truth has been in existence for decades, but there was a huge spike in fake and fabricated news in 2016 resulting in ‘post-truth’ being declared as the ‘International Word of the Year’ by Oxford Dictionary. In 2017, we entered the post-truth era. Following the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President, we are now living in a world where emotion and populism win out over facts and experts. It’s a place where public opinions and
government policies are being shaped by those whose words provoke the most hysteria.

What happened in 2017?
The continuation of intense and pervasive social media activity amplified post-truth in 2017. The rise of ‘fake news’ was facilitated by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – 62% of Americans now regard social media platforms as places where they consume news, rather than place where they are directed to new sources. This means that vast audiences are at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithm, serving them news from like-minded viewpoints. Confirmation bias – interpreting new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs – has driven the click-by-click spread of fake news and misguided information. So, it is no surprise that trolls and other unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of the ease of which they can distribute fake news to further their agendas, including turning it into a money-making business with the
distribution of sensational fake news.

What’s next?
The reality is the world is neither ready nor willing to say goodbye to truth. But the popular opinion now is somehow being easily swayed by emotionally charged rhetoric and fake news having no factual basis. It requires deliberate action to drive social scrutiny and to encourage people to be more focused on evidence and rational thinking. In 2018, we can expect more scrutiny and vigilance to expose organisations to reveal the truth and curb those hustlers from distributing fake news. Google and the other social media networks are starting to take action to stop the fake news distributors from using their services to target specific audiences. For example, Google announced in November 2017 that sites that misrepresent themselves would no longer be able to use AdSense and in the same month, Facebook said the fake news sites would not be able to use the Facebook Audience Network. Unless strong regulations are in place, we believe this news clean-up will still continue to be a challenge in 2018.

What does this mean for marketers?
The rise of fake news has had a major impact on the biggest global media platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. The organisations generating fake news have been leveraging social and video platforms and search engines to optimise their distribution and content consumption. This has increased the likelihood of advertising content from legitimate advertisers being featured close to fake news, which, in turn, can generate significant negative PR for a brand. The importance of brand safety for all advertisers came up time and time again last year and the continued rise of fake news should put this topic at the top of any marketer’s agenda.

We believe advertisers should do the following:

  • Build a strict set of guidelines for brand safety outlining how brands should be able to block any type of exposure in non-brand safe environments with a clear compensation policy, should any issue arise.
  • Implement 3rd party brand safety tools to cover all advertising likely to be affected by brand safety issues. The recent additions of Fake News blocker by DoubleVerify is a valuable development allowing advertisers to block exposure on Fake News websites with more than 75 brand safety filters.
  • Reduce advertising in areas where 3rd party brand safety tools are not able to operate and provide the relevant brand safety controls.
  • Implement comprehensive white lists to control where ads appear.
  • Work closely with global platforms to help them improve safety controls on their platforms.
  • Conduct regular reviews of where your ads feature.
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