Paid Social Poses Biggest Brand Safety Risk, Advertisers Say

April 14, 2023

This article is included in these additional categories:

Advertising Trends | Creative & Formats | Digital | Display & Rich Media | Mobile Phone | Paid Search | Social Media | Video

More marketers this year are forecasting a significant impact on their strategies from brand safety concerns. And with most consumers believing that advertisers take brand safety issues into account when deciding where to spend their advertising dollars, 3 in 4 marketing and advertising executives surveyed by Advertiser Perceptions agree that brands need more oversight and control over where their ads are placed, and who profits from those placements.

According to the respondents, who are directly involved in media brand selection decisions and spent more than $1 million on advertising in the previous year, paid social is the area of most concern for brand safety. Indeed, almost half (46%) identified paid social as a high concern in this regard.

This calls to mind research in which digital media experts felt that social media was the advertising channel in which misinformation is most prevalent. Additionally, US adults hold dim views of brands that advertise on social platforms that host misinformation or conspiracy theories.

Beyond paid social, one-third are highly concerned by the brand safety risk of search, and about 3 in 10 of the risks of advertising in digital video (29%), display (29%) and mobile in-app ads (29%).

While advertisers are concerned about brand safety risks, the majority (80%) agree that an independent press is an important part of a functioning democracy and that it’s important that advertising dollars support quality journalism that shows people what’s happening (65%). By comparison, though, only 45% agree that supporting news organizations with ad dollars is important to their organization.

Additionally, only 53% agree that legitimate news does not pose a significant brand safety risk.

To tackle misinformation, 52% agree that de-funding the disinformation ecosystem is an active priority for their marketing organization or agency. Among these respondents, blocking known misinformation/propaganda channels is the most common step taken, followed by placing ads only on vetted domains/apps and using social media tools to limit negative adjacencies. A significant portion are avoiding ad placements in social in-feed environments, with this step significantly more common among larger advertisers (at least $25 million in annual ad spend).

Finally, two-thirds are using third-party verification vendor technology for brand safety/suitability, and 8 in 10 believe their verification solutions are able to distinguish legitimate news from offensive/non-reputable content. However, just 23% feel that these solutions filter for disinformation “extremely well,” down from 35% who felt that way a year earlier.

About the Data: The results are based on a Q4 2022 survey of 252 marketers (51% share) and agency executives (49% share) who are involved in media brand selection decisions and spend at least $1 million annually on advertising, including 58% share who spend at least $25 million on advertising annually.


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