Advertisers — what happens when ‘quality media’ crosses the line?

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An extract from my interview with John McCarthy at The Drum on advertising funding hate and disinformation, read the full interview here.

In an ad-funded web, big bucks from brands make a lot of disinformation sources profitable. Brands are awakening to this. Advertisers should “treat advertising spend like a resource to incubate and fund a healthy internet”. This means defunding/blocking the “bad stuff” and including quality journalism with inclusion lists.

Now, not all journalism is born equal, and what passes as “quality” is open to debate. It’s a gray area…

But for brands talking a big game on inclusion and diversity, does spending in media that argues against these ideals erode the sincerity of their initiatives? Does a couple of news stories featuring hate or misinformation sully a huge media brand? How much control should advertisers exhibit over media titles they buy in?

These are all questions marketers must ask themselves and Kingaby says it’s important that advertisers challenge these publications when they cross the line. “And if they pause spend [after a particularly controversial story], it is important to have a dialogue about why.”

“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you get the automatic right to be paid for that speech. I can stand in a field and say whatever I like, but I don’t have the automatic right to be paid for saying it.”

“If you turn a blind eye and keep fueling the beast, the beast can come back to bite you. We have a hugely polarized electorate and that’s not good for business.”