Arvind Hickman
Aug 24, 2021

Advertisers spend $2.6 billion on misinformation websites

For every $2.16 spent on news websites in the US, $1 is spent on misinformation.

Advertisers spend $2.6 billion on misinformation websites

Websites that have been set up to peddle misinformation are reaping billions in annual advertising revenue from top brands, new research has found.

Analysis by NewsGuard and Comscore—vendors that help brands place ads in safe online environments—found the misinformation industry generates about $2.6 billion in estimated advertising revenue that is automatically served to websites by programmatic advertising platforms.

The majority stems from the US, where unwitting advertisers are placing $1.6 billion in advertising on fake news sites such as Children's Health Defense, NaturalNews.com, TheGatewayPundit.com and DavidIcke.com (pictured below), which have published misinformation about Covid-19.


In the UK, the study estimates advertisers spend $152 million on misinformation sites, while in Europe the figure is $475 million.

Major brands, including Pepsi, Starbucks, Verizon and Marriott have had their ads placed on misinformation sites. Comcast, which owns reputable media companies such as NBC and Sky, has also had ads placed on misinformation sites.

Although the figures sound large, the study found the problem only applied to about 1.68% of display ad spend among the sample of 7,500 sites.

In the US, the analysis showed that for every $2.16 in digital ad revenue sent to legitimate newsbrands, US advertisers send $1 to misinformation websites.

Since the pandemic began, websites that peddle Covid-19 myths have become a major brand-safety issue. 

NewsGuard, which has been tracking the issue, recently found more than 4,000 brands, including Covid vaccine maker Pfizer, health insurers and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had unintentionally bought ads that fund misinformation websites that promote Covid-19 conspiracy theories and misinformation.

NewsGuard partners agencies within IPG, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom. It also works with demand side platforms MediaMath, Amobee, Verizon DSP, Centro, Xandr and supply side platforms GumGum, TripleLift, Teads and IndexExchange. 

It provides a service where journalists curate credible website inclusion lists for advertisers.

NewsGuard UK managing director Alex Cadier said a recent case study found that when an advertiser targets ads to credible sites, their average CPM reduces by 9% and click-through rates increase by 143%.

Source:
Campaign UK

Related Articles

Just Published

4 hours ago

Cannes Contenders: Wolf BKK predicts which ...

Wolf BKK's Torsak Chuenprapar handpicks the campaigns that could win a Lion next week at Cannes.

4 hours ago

Grey changes Asia Pacific leadership, appoints ...

EXCLUSIVE: After 33 years with Grey, global COO and international president Nirvik Singh is leaving the business. Grey also has appointed Masahiko Okazaki as its new CEO in Japan, replacing Yukiko Ochiai.

5 hours ago

Apple is the world's first $1 trillion brand: Kantar

Apple has secured the most valuable spot for the third year running. NVIDIA, meanwhile, has ridden the AI wave to leap into the top 10, enjoying a 178% brand value increase.

6 hours ago

Agency Report Card 2023: Publicis Creative

Bold leadership decisions that drive change as well as sound creative and business judgment continue to pay dividends for Publicis across APAC.