What does fake news mean for brands?

2017 saw many marketing innovations; social media analytics became more powerful and multichannel attribution models have advanced. But, it wasn’t all good news in 2017 as ‘fake news’ was coined phrase of the year and this has raised challenges for marketers. We don’t need to explain what fake news means because it’s self-explanatory and was used 365% more in 2017 than 2016, so unless you lived under a bridge in 2017, you’ll know about fake news. The consequences of fake news are such that adverts on online mediums found to be reporting fake news can damage brands.

Network Research findings show that even if respondents have a favourable opinion of a brand, if an advert is placed in a newspaper or medium they do not like or trust, 19% are more likely to lower their trust in that brand. Advertising alongside credible new sources can increase brand credibility in the eyes of the consumer, something which can enhance brand image and equity.

Mintel research shows that news & current affairs magazines have seen growth in print numbers and this may be a reflection of people’s growing mistrust of online news. It’s clear that the rise of fake news online is potentially a big problem for brands. However, the controversy surrounding fake news is not confined to the online world, the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign encourages brands to cease advertising with The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express as they argue these papers are divisive and report factually inaccurate news. Many brands have pledged to stop advertising in these newspapers and have blocked their advertising from appearing on their online sites.

From a brand management perspective, the negative consequences of fake news are far more concerning than just having confused and misinformed readers, reputations of brands are at stake. Brands must approach online advertising with caution, thinking carefully about where they don’t want to advertise, maybe moreover where they do want to advertise.