Where Do Digital Media Experts Think Misinformation is Most Prevalent?

June 30, 2022

More than 8 in 10 (84% of) digital media experts say that they harbor high or very high levels of concern about at least one media quality threat, according to a study [download page] from Integral Ad Science (IAS) in partnership with YouGov. Misinformation, disinformation and fake news rank as the most concerning threat, with respondents concerned primarily with their impact on company reputation and consumer distrust in legitimate content and advertising.

Based on a survey of more than 500 US digital media experts, primarily at advertisers and brands (62% share), the report finds that these concerns come amidst an environment in which programmatic is the most heavily used form of transacting and fulfilling digital advertising orders.

Media environments and formats that are often transacted programmatically are also among the top priorities for advertisers this year, led by social platforms, mobile (including app and web environments, and excluding audio display and social), and display (excluding social).

Misinformation Threats & Vulnerabilities

The digital media experts surveyed are most apt to believe that political news (64%) is vulnerable to disinformation, misinformation and fake news incidents this year. Trailing, and cited by fewer than half of respondents, is international news (46%), although two-thirds (68%) separately say that the amount of disinformation and fake news content has increased due to recent geopolitical developments. Likewise, while fewer than half (44%) see healthcare content as vulnerable, a majority (62%) say that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in misinformation and fake news content.

Meanwhile, the ad format that respondents believe is most likely to experience disinformation, misinformation and fake news incidents this year is social media, cited by 60% of respondents. This isn’t hard to understand, especially given separate research in which almost half of adults surveyed said they knew someone influenced by misinformation on social media. Indeed, another piece of research found that social media was the least trusted source of information, while also indicating that people’s concerns over fake news had grown.

Beyond social media, digital media experts see mobile (52%) and audio (49%) as the next most likely to experience misinformation incidents. On the other end of the spectrum are linear TV and native, which few expect to experience these types of incidents.

Going forward, roughly 3 in 4 agree or strongly agree that ad buyers and sellers need to actively avoid misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. Discouragingly, fewer than half say their organization has clear guidelines about advertising alongside misinformation. Media partners should recognize, though, that brand safety issues are the top reason why advertisers would stop working with them.

Download the full IAS report here.

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