A 2017 study examined the effect that uncertain brand safety had on US and Canadian Millennials and Gen Xers. 1,500 consumers ages 22-45 participated. The study found that:
- 64 percent of respondents thought a brand risked its reputation if its ad appeared next to hateful, derogatory or offensive content.
- 70 percent said they would not recommend purchasing from a brand that appeared near such content.
What makes things worse is that many Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t aware of how ad placement works.
- 1 in 3 Millennials and Gen Xers were unsure if a brand was responsible for the unsafe content or if the brand knew where its ad had been placed.
- 51 percent were less likely to purchase from such a brand, whether it was the brands fault or not.
A 2017 CMO Council Survey found similar results. Here, 2,000 adult consumers from the US, Canada and the UK participated. They found that:
- 48 percent of consumers would abandon a brand they loved if its ad ran alongside objectionable content.
- 88 percent said a negative association would have them reconsider purchasing from that brand
These respondents were also asked about their level of trust in media platforms. Friends, TV, search engines and newspapers were considered more trustworthy than social media. They distrusted social media the most. 60 percent of respondents said they are purposely consuming content from well-known, established and trusted news sources and media channels, in order to escape objectionable content. 63 percent admitted they’d respond more positively to an ad run on a trusted media channel than elsewhere.
These findings aren’t set in stone. A 2018 lab experiment muddies the waters on them. More research is required. Still, the threat of negative ad adjacency is significant and palpable.
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