Rahul Sachitanand
Oct 20, 2021

Why your ad next to trendy pimple-popping, mukbang, and ASMR videos missed the target

A new report from Channel Factory and Magna shows that while consumers are entertained by misguided ads, advertisers will not be amused by the results of content-ad misalignment.

Why your ad next to trendy pimple-popping, mukbang, and ASMR videos missed the target

As a marketer you may be tempted to chase down ad slots in trending videos ranging from Mukbang to pimple-popping and ASMR, but the odds are your target audience will watch your creatives as entertainment, but may be less inclined to buy your products, a new survey has revealed.

A critical finding of the study, titled, 'The Proximity Effect: Quantifying the Impact of Misaligned Content in the Wild West of Video', is that misaligned content erodes the impact of ad creatives that had proven strong performance in standard content. The study also discovered that brands need to be proactive about how to treat misaligned content to avoid diminishing the effectiveness of otherwise powerful ads. Brands should also keep an eye on popular, trending content to ensure the appropriate steps can be taken to avoid unfortunate brand and content alignments, since not all trending content is suitable for all brands.


Misaligned content for the test brands was content that commonly produces strong visceral reactions in people, including skin conditions (pimple popping), ASMR (videos inducing the autonomous sensory meridian response) and Mukbang (video host consumes various quantities of food). Such topics continue to trend in Asia-Pacific. For example in Singapore, related search queries for "ASMR" increased by 55% over the 90 days, according to Google Trends. Searches for the term "mukbang" also increased 103% in the past 90 days.

"Consumers are increasingly aware of what type of content is considered “appropriate in general” vs. “appropriate for brands”—just because something is trendy, entertaining, a guilty pleasure, or fun to watch doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for a brand to be associated with,” said Alex Littlejohn, managing director Asia-Pacific, Channel Factory. 

According to findings from this report, misaligned content can significantly impact the performance of accompanying ads. This impact is especially noticeable on four aspects: purchase intent (-8%), brand respect (-9%), brand is high quality (-5%), and brand I trust (-6%) compared to standard content. When brands have ads in misaligned content, it “leaves a bad memory attached to the brand,” and users found the content association to be “weird” or “low calibre” for the brand, respondents to the survey stated.


The onus to better target ads may lie with brands. This study states that brands are more likely to be held accountable for the content they appear next to: consumers were 1.5 times as likely to feel the brand endorsed misaligned content in pre-roll video compared to the video-card environment.

In a video-card environment, the closer the ad, the stronger the brand association: Consumers were 10% more likely to believe the brand supported the misaligned content that the ad was immediately next to, compared to an ad two videos away. Brand KPIs were most likely to be harmed when the ad appeared immediately before the misaligned content, making it the biggest concern in video-card environments.

“Some of the most engaging misaligned content actually had the worst repercussions for brands,” said Kara Manatt, SVP of Intelligence Solutions at Magna. “The industry should continue to learn about the effects of misaligned content and build technologies accordingly to ensure appropriate and aligned placements regardless of the video environment.”

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