Investors are pushing Home Depot and Omnicom to direct advertisements of misinformation
Businesses over the past few years have struggled to reach potential customers while ensuring their online ads don’t appear near suspicious, suggestive, or potentially harmful content. AARP, mentioned in the NewsGuard report as one of the companies that ran ads on websites promoting false election claims, said that despite strict surveillance procedures, some ads have slipped through the cracks.
“We follow strict ad placement protocols, but no system is 100 percent foolproof,” said Martha Boudreau, executive vice president of AARP, in a statement.
An internal AARP review found that “a tiny fraction” of its ads, less than 1/100 of 1 percent, were displayed on NewsGuard-flagged websites, Ms. Boudreau added.
Matt Skibinski, general manager of NewsGuard, said that companies should treat websites that post misinformation in the same way as websites that promote behavior that is inconsistent with their corporate values or post the content they do not want to be associated with.
“Many brands have someone whose job it is to make sure they don’t run ads in an environment they would consider unsafe or unsuitable, and that includes violence, pornography and gambling,” Skibinski said. “We need the industry to see misinformation in this category – which causes damage in the real world.”
NewsGuard reported that Procter & Gamble ads appeared on The Gateway Pundit, one of the websites targeted for posting misinformation about elections. In an email, Procter & Gamble said it did not advertise on the website on purpose. Erica Noble, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, said the company’s ads are quickly removed if placed on a website that does not meet its standards.
“These are all standards that were in place long before the terrible events of January 6, but we know they are becoming more important now,” she said.