- IPG Mediabrands and Omnicom Media Group are using a new NewsGuard tool to prevent ads from ending up on misinformation sites.
- The idea is to protect advertisers without penalizing high-quality news sites.
- But some say the nature of automated advertising makes it impossible to eliminate risk.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Online advertising has long been a double-edged sword for marketers. Automated digital ad buying is efficient, but also means ads can inadvertently end up fueling questionable content and hurt legitimate publishers in the process.
NewsGuard, a company that uses journalists and artificial intelligence to identify misinformation across the internet, has new tools that it says keeps ads off misinformation sites without penalizing quality news sites.
Ad buying giants including IPG Mediabrands and Omnicom Media Group are employing the new tool, called Responsible Advertising for News Segments (RANS).
The tool updates lists that help advertisers avoid websites promoting misinformation and vets lists of credible websites including those focused on Black, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities. Advertisers can access the tool through demand-side platforms that marketers use to buy ads, their media agencies, or directly through NewsGuard.
Marketers and ad tech companies like DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science have already attempted to control how and where ads appear online. But the automated nature of programmatic advertising means brands can still wind up being associated with misinformation. Many brands react by pulling ads or try to avoid the risk by blocking categories of websites like “news” or keywords like “coronavirus,” harming legitimate publishers.
NewsGuard says its solution is better than those offered by competitors because it uses human beings to augment technology.
“This is not a problem tech alone can solve,” Brill said. “Our approach can tell the difference between cancer.org, which is the legitimate site of the American Cancer Society versus cancer.news, which is a hoax site spreading hoax and misinformation, without widespread keyword blocking that hurts publishers.”
Misinformation has become an increasing concern for company shareholders while programmatic advertising has grown as a share of digital advertising. Home Depot and Omnicom shareholders have filed resolutions asking the companies to investigate whether their ad dollars have helped spread hate speech and misinformation.
Several IPG clients have started using NewsGuard’s tools, said Joshua Lowcock, US chief digital officer for Universal McCann and global brand safety officer for IPG Mediabrands. He said that NewsGuard’s criteria to classify publishers in its inclusion and exclusion lists helps by showing advertisers exactly why a seemingly innocuous website may actually be unsafe.
“Alternative solutions in the market use keyword and contextual blocking, but don’t address if a publisher is legitimate in the first place,” he said.
While advertisers are paying to ensure they’re not funding misinformation, the problem will remain unresolved as long as the programmatic adtech platforms like Google and The Trade Desk don’t fix the problem, said Lowcock. Others believe that it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all risk from online ads due to the scale and speed of programmatic ad buying.
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