Megan Reichelt
Feb 14, 2024

2024 Indonesian general election: How advertisers can navigate an unpredictable cultural climate

As Indonesians head to the polls today, IAS' Megan Reichelt urges marketers to be aware of why safeguarding their brand during election cycles and times of uncertainty is becoming more and more imperative.

Photo: Getty Images.
Photo: Getty Images.

The 2024 Indonesian presidential election has witnessed a whirlwind of media activity.  

Campaigns ramping up, social media overflowing with discussion, and brands navigating a dynamic landscape to reach their target audience. But amidst the buzz, media quality becomes paramount. 

Safeguarding your brand during the election cycle and uncertainty 

Issues such as elections, war and conflict, social and cultural upheaval, climate crisis, and the spread of disinformation and misinformation now proliferate with increased virality. These challenges pose immediate threats and can become defining historical or cultural moments. They create risks for individuals and businesses, particularly regarding advertising on key publishers and platforms. Safeguarding your brand during the election cycles and uncertainties becomes imperative. 

When marketers succumb to a reactionary cycle of blocking, pausing, or outright cancelling media spending when confronted with cultural crises, they risk adversely affecting both the brand and the broader community in which they operate. 

First, there is sales disruption: When marketing efforts halt, the brand's marketing KPIs are also disrupted, resulting in slower sales and a less resilient brand.  

Second, it affects marketing and media efficiency: While it may seem proactive, taking a risk-averse approach to brand safety and suitability can significantly limit reach. Frequent knee-jerk reactions, like sudden pauses, cancellations, or updates to block lists, can substantially disrupt marketing operations.  

Third, there are impacts on the larger community: Conventional keyword-based blocking solutions may inadvertently introduce bias and tend to have a far harsher impact on publishers that cater to minority audiences. 

Unlearn three standard marketing practices during elections

The first practice to unlearn is not harnessing the full potential of contextual-based technology. Since consumers favour ads relevant to the content surrounding them, marketers should use contextual tools to avoid unsuitable content and target hyper-relevant content. 

Next, we need to break the cycle of avoiding news during crises and instead lean into what is known as the halo effect. A study conducted by the IAB revealed that consumers perceive brands advertising on news platforms as more trustworthy and relevant, creating what the IAB calls a 'Trust Halo'. This suggests that brands should avoid outright ignoring news, even during contentious times like an election cycle. 

Finally, acknowledging that brand safety and suitability technology has evolved from keyword-based solutions confined to URL detection is crucial. Instead, marketers can now have solutions considering critical factors such as sentiment and emotion to provide a full-page context. 

How to avoid misinformation and safeguard your brands

Marketers need to safeguard their brands and avoid misinformation content; here are a few steps for them to consider: 

First and foremost, marketers should review their current brand safety and suitability strategies. What is their brand safety and suitability focus, brand risk appetite, risks they are most concerned about, what opportunities are unique to their brands, etc.? 

Understand that using just keyword blocking to avoid unsuitable environments will make it a blunt approach that blocks tons of perfectly suitable inventory. This drives up media costs and reduces scale. 

Once brands have a brand safety and suitability strategy, evaluate verification partners to help them achieve it. Do they support the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) tiered brand safety standard? Do they allow you to customise end-to-end suitability categories in pre-bid and post-bid, blocking inappropriate ads and reporting violations? What level of transparency do they provide?  

Can you get individual, impression-level reporting on unsafe exposures, or do they only report on aggregate roll-ups by site or campaign? And importantly, do they consider the sentiment and emotion of the content at the page level to ensure you have maximum accuracy and customisable protection? These are essential questions your ad verification partner should be able to answer. 

Use strong brand safety and suitability tools to expand global coverage and classify more misinformation sources. Consider verification partners with the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) partnerships. This trusted third party sets the standard for what qualifies as disinformation and focuses on restoring trust in media sites worldwide by providing real-time automated risk ratings. 

Staying vigilant and building trust 

Marketers are awakening to media quality and verification tools' crucial role in driving results responsibly, eliminating waste such as disinformation, fraud and brand risk from the digital ecosystem, and creating engagement with consumers.  

According to IAS' misinformation report, 80% of consumers agree that misinformation is a severe problem in digital media, and 73% say they feel unfavourably toward brands associated with misinformation.  

Consumers expect brand values to mirror their own, engaging with companies that fight misinformation. Brands should move beyond mere impressions and optimise for genuine user engagement; vigilance and strategic actions are crucial to thriving in this evolving space.  

By staying informed about regulations, prioritising transparency, and embracing quality media, brands can confidently navigate not just Indonesia's digital terrain, but any others, building trust and maximising campaign success. 

Megan Reichelt, is the Southeast Asia country head at Integral Ad Science (IAS).

Campaign Asia

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