Last week, Integral Ad Science (IAS) launched the Australian edition of its Social Ads and Consumer Perception study, which explored social media usage trends and how consumers interact with social media ads.
The report was based on a survey of over 500 Aussies, and featured some interesting insights into how everyday people perceive ads on various digitised platforms.
The report found 40 per cent of respondents were less trusting of social media ads based on fake news proliferation, while 44 per cent had a negative view of brands whose ads appear next to content inconsistent with that same brand’s image.
A further 66 per cent of consumers were hesitant or unlikely to purchase something advertised on social media if it appeared next to “unsafe content”.
On the back of these illuminating stats, we chatted with IAS country manager, Jessica Miles (featured image), to get some further context on the report, responsible ad placement, how advertisers can tackle fake news, and an advertiser’s role in the future.
B&T: You’ve been with IAS for some years now, and you’ve obviously seen a lot of numbers, but what statistics from this report surprised you the most?
The statistic that surprised me the most was who consumers felt was responsible for ad placement. It really highlighted consumers are unaware of the mechanics of advertising, because the majority of them [placed] the responsibility with the social media platform. There’s whole mechanics and many pipes that go into placing that [ad] in front of the consumer. The responsibility should lie with the body that understands the brand most, and that’s the advertiser. The advertiser knows their brand better than anyone else. They know what’s right, what’s wrong, what content is suitable. It’s interesting that the consumer is looking at the social media platform as the one who should be responsible.
Fake news featured in this report, and is so widely proliferated these days. How do you think social media advertisers can make their brands seem more trustworthy in the face of this ongoing threat?
For brands to build that trust with the consumer on social media, it’s about making sure they can align with context that’s relevant to the consumer. What we’ve found is that with contextual relevancy and good media quality, it drives outcomes such as higher purchase intent, higher memorability. These outcomes are directly aligned with consumers being more willing to engage with the brand, because they trust that brand. It’s really up to the advertiser – working in partnership with their social media platform – to make sure the ad placement is within the correct environment, and is contextually relevant to their ad.
Propaganda and fake news has proliferated on social media as of late. Do brands have a responsibility to denounce adjacent content, to ensure more trust from consumers?
I think the responsibility for brands is to select the right environment for them. Depending on what the situation is – obviously, when you look at the current environment and what’s going on overseas – brands will align in a way that’s right for their brand, and they will choose whether they’re right or left-leaning based on what they believe.
I don’t think it’s their responsibility to denounce particular content. Their responsibility is to know their brand inherently and to put their brand forward to the best of their ability. The controls they have with that is to choose their own environment.
Going outside and denouncing misinformation and denouncing other inappropriate content is really outside their realm of expertise. Yes, they can do that if they feel passionately about it [and] if their brand is particularly aligned in a certain way. But I don’t think it’s their responsibility to do that.
The report mentions consumers will hold brands responsible if they see an ad placed next to “unsafe content”. What exactly does “unsafe content” entail?
The simplest way to answer that is to refer to the GARM segments [Global Alliance for Responsible Media]. There’s nine categories, and they go from misinformation, content that uses hate speech, adult content, illegal drugs, alcohol [etc.] You could also include things like pirated or bootlegged content, or offensive language. With the GARM they bucketed what generally would be considered inappropriate and then they’ve created those categories.
Facebook lost users for the first time last month. Do you think some social media platforms will quickly become unprofitable for advertisers in the future?
I believe advertisers will invest in platforms that will drive outcomes. As long as Facebook continues to be a huge platform that so many people in the world plug into everyday, it will continue to be a source of investment for advertisers. If other platforms start to generate similar outcomes, or better outcomes, advertisers will shift their money there. It’s outcome driven. Wherever the advertisers are able to drive purchase and drive conversions, that’s where they’ll be investing their money because that’s where they want to amplify their brand.
Does IAS have any plans to follow up on these statistics come the end of the year?
Great question. As far as I know there’s nothing in the pipeline. In saying that, we do like to run research at a particular cadence to see if there are any trends. In terms of an exact date when we’ll be running another one of these, I don’t have that. Are you interested in another one?
This type of report – and social media usage – often reflects the broader societal context. It would’ve been interesting to see a report like this at the start and end of 2020.
Agreed. I think from an advertising perspective, what will be interesting is to see how they incorporate social media into the current media set. So many of us are digital. We’re pretty much digitally led and we’re interacting on so many different [platforms]. It could be Facebook, it could be the news I read when I wake up. Really, it’s more like a total screens approach.
This is what I think will happen, as advertising evolves into this digitally led consumer. As an advertiser, how can I interact with someone on a really personal device, in a personal environment like social media? The way I think of social media is someone talking to you in your own house – and just to you. It’s a one-to-one conversation. But then, how can they leverage that with that bigger conversation they may need to have on CTV, where it’s not a one-to-one conversation. If it’s streaming on an OTV device, it could be a one-to-one-to-three conversation! And how do they continue that conversation across the different screens? And what part does social media play in that purchase funnel versus how does it ladder into CTV?
Do you think this year we’ll see advertisers push more so into the VR and metaverse realm this year?
I think the metaverse and the opportunities it provides for different types of experiences is really exciting. In terms of where we’ll go with that, it’s still up in the air. It’s so new. I think there is still some work that needs to be done to allow advertisers to be in that realm but still maintain media quality and still drive outcomes.
It is quite an unknown at the moment, and we see conflicting reports in the news about its efficacy, but also it’s dangers. For an advertiser, it’s about treading cautiously, and testing and learning. It always goes back to the advertiser being very clear on what is right for the brand and what is not right. And being able to control that when they enter a certain space. Whether that is social media or the metaverse, they need to have the ability to control that environment.
You can read the full report HERE.
This article was first published on B&T.