The political climate and the rise in fake news has had tremendous (-ly bad) effects on consumer trust and the resulting scrutiny brands face. Gone are the days where brands can offload advertising to an agency and only check in when monthly reporting metrics are in. Without taking a hands on approach, consumer brands run the risk of paying for advertising activities that just aren’t bearing fruit, or worse, placing your beloved brand in an ad amongst some highly controversial and inaccurate content. The effects can be devastating. As a slew of data studies start filling our news feeds for the new year, I think it’s important to address a few key statistics that stood out to me –
- Consumer trust in the media has reached an all-time low of 42%, down from 47% last year. Furthermore, trust in news found on platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter decreased in 21 of the 28 countries surveyed.
- Sharing of information from groups known to be “sources of ‘propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information’” has also reached all time highs.
- America is now home to the least-trusting informed public of the 28 countries that the firm surveyed, right below South Africa.
We can debate for days the correlation behind a growth in the acceptance of misinformation and the decrease in consumer trust, but what we can’t debate is the role we as technologists must play in solving the problem. At the core of the problem is the speed at which technology advances. It’s a significantly quicker pace than that of industry regulators. This creates a ‘wild west’ in new technology environments where the less honorable of our industry can wreak havoc. We’re seeing everything from unsecure usage of consumer data and leveraging of inaccurate location insights to blatant falsehoods designed to make a quick buck. The unsuspecting brand marketer truly has to have an investigatorial mindset to navigate the minefield.
The second major issue comes from the rise in fake news and propaganda sites tied in with the potential brand damage done with inadvertently being associated with provocative and/or inaccurate content. Increasing concerns surrounding brand safety are indisputable.
The only way to solve this perpetual problem is through technology brands in pioneering spaces agreeing to a set of standards by which we all need to operate. We need to open the proverbial kimono so everyone can see how data is being utilized. It’s only with this an agreed commitment to transparency will consumers better understand how data is being utilized and begin to trust again. And most importantly, consumers need to know they, and only they, own their data. They choose how it’s utilized.
At Blis, we wholeheartedly believe in accuracy over speed. In security over profitability. This mindset ensures we provide the market with the most accurate measurement and the adoption of industry leading security protocols. While we may not always be first to market, our customers know we’re not going to put them in a situation that has the potential to have devastating brand affinity effects. Additionally, being a global business first, we’ve always operated under the strictest regulatory laws in the world and thus our customers have always been able to trust we’ll be effective brand partners.
At the end of the day, it’s those of us working in and leading technology businesses that will have to fix the problem we created. If we don’t, we’ll continue to watch trust metric decline, and with it the loyalty we’ve worked so hard to build.