More than a third of consumers say their trust in brands grows when companies advertise alongside news content

  • New IAB data shows that 84% of US consumers’ trust in brands either grows or is unaffected when they see companies advertising in the news.
  • This data contradicts some fears that companies have about advertising alongside news cycles focused on the pandemic, civic unrest, and the election.
  • Insider Intelligence analyzes this industry and several others to provide in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. Learn more about what we offer.

The majority (84%) of consumers say that their trust in a brand is either unaffected or increased when seeing their ads in the news, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Their September 2020 survey, sponsored by various news organizations, found that 38% of US consumers considered advertisers in the news more trustworthy, and 46% said trustworthiness in brands was not affected. The IAB noted that this sentiment held across different types of news, including serious, entertaining, or opinionated news. This is evidence of the so-called “halo effect,” which is when positive views of a company similarly influences consumers’ perceptions of associated brands.

The study contradicts some fears that companies have about advertising alongside news cycles focused on the pandemic, civic unrest, and the election. This year, advertisers that were worried about brand safety implemented keyword blacklists on online content tied to the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.

These concerns may also push advertisers away from ongoing news about the US presidential election. (These blacklists—on top of the general pullback in ad spending—will contribute to an estimated 8.4% decline year-over-year in US newspaper digital ad revenues, per our estimates.) The IAB study suggests this approach may have been unnecessary as advertising on news content can be beneficial to a brand’s image.

Even so, there are still things that brands should be careful about. The study did not make comparisons between news outlets to determine whether these consumers’ attitudes were uniform across publications or networks; so it is still possible that certain outlets may not evoke a positive response for brands.

Other studies have also found that the sentiment of specific news can be a relevant factor as well: Integral Ad Science found that content with a positive or neutral sentiment led to more favorable views of associated brands, while the opposite was true for content with a negative sentiment. Ultimately, increases in trust do not completely negate brand safety concerns if the substance of certain news topics conflict with companies’ value or goals.

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