Nearly 80% of executives see ads appear next to 'unsavoury' content, says Reuters study

Three out of four (75%) executives have seen brands advertising alongside unsavoury or objectionable stories or videos, while  77% said advertising next to inappropriate content can damage the perception of a brand. This is according to Reuters' Tomorrow's News 2018 report, which surveyed 1,587 global executives.

The research, conducted by Synergy Research and Consulting, also said that 62% of respondents agree that "brands have full control over where their advertising appears". Meanwhile, 66% of respondents are more likely to notice an advertiser if it apepars on a trusted news site. Also, 64% are more likely to respond to an advertisement if it appears on a trusted news site. When it comes to content, 76% say personalisation "narrows their views" on various topics, while 88% want to see a balance of content they like and dislike. Meanwhile, 90% of executives said they can only have an informed opinion if they are exposed to content they both agree and disagree with.

Fake news has become an issue recently, with governments such as those in Singapore and Malaysia taking a stronger stance on the matter. Facebook, also said last year that repeat sharers of fake news will not be allowed to advertise on its platform. Majority of executives (87%) in the Tomorrow's News 2018 report think that Google and Facebook should do more to control fake news, while 81% believe that Google and Facebook should be held accountable for content.

News websites and apps remain a primary news source for 83% of the executives surveyed, followed by news aggregators (54%), email newsletters or alerts (50%) and search engines (44%). Only 36% viewed social media as a primary news source. Those surveyed also stated that they are "growing increasingly sceptical" of social media as a source of news, with 85% indicating that fake news has made them doubt news stories shared on social media. Also, only 24% of executives trust social media as a source and 38% actively share news from those platforms.

According to Munira Ibrahim, Reuters SVP for sales and content solutions, advertising agencies and tech companies alike are having to pay more attention to good governance and integrity. "Executives are looking for factual and impartial content in a trusted environment and the findings of this research highlight the enduring importance of trusted brands in an era of fake news," she said.

Executives sceptical about the management of data

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has caused a stir among companies and consumers, raising concerns about data privacy. Also, the European Union (EU) recently implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which oversees data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area. This is in a bid to give citizens control over their personal data.

With so much chatter around data privacy these days, majority of executives (96%) said companies should be transparent about the data they collect on their customers and how they use it, while 94% said that users should be in control of the data that companies collect on them. In the meantime, 95% stated they have the right to view, limit or erase information that businesses collect about them. When it comes to sharing data, only 66% said they are willing to share data with companies they trust, while 60% indicated they are willing to do so if the data is used to provide them with a better online experience.

Only 7% of respondents from Asia Pacific said they are familiar with GDPR and consider it an important factor that will influence their business in the next four years. In the meantime, 77% from Asia Pacific said there is little information available on how GDPR will impact their consumer privacy rights, and 75% said they are unsure which sources to seek out to find out how GDPR will impact them as a consumer.

Artificial intelligence to play an increasingly important role

While mobile devices (87%) are still seen as the most popular technological information that will influence consumers' consumption of news in the long term, AI (84%) is seen to become increasingly important. Mobile app development (80%), computer-generated content or algorithms (77%) and internet of things and connected living (77%) were among the top five innovations that will influence news consumption. AI( 53%), cyber security (50%) and big data and analytics (46%) were also listed as factors that will impact the future of businesses.