Consumers Think Unsafe Ad Placements Are Intentional, Study Finds

By . Published by ADWEEK on October 24, 2018.

The study’s intent was to measure the quantifiable effects brand safety incidents have on consumer sentiment.

Consumers are nearly three times less willing to associate with a brand that advertises alongside unsavory, inappropriate or offensive video content—and they tend to assume that ad placements alongside such video content are intentional, according to a new study that aimed to quantify the impact of brand safety incidents on consumer sentiment.

IPG Mediabrands’ research arm IPG Media Lab and cyber security brand safety company CHEQ conducted the study, which found that even content that clashed with the brand or its vertical could cause consumers to think less of the brand’s reputation, quality and trustworthiness. Consumers were seven times less likely to consider the brand to be high-quality, slightly less likely to recommend a brand and more than four times less likely to feel like the brand cared about them after viewing the brand’s video ads before inappropriate video content.

It’s no secret that brand safety incidents—in which advertisers’ ad content appears alongside unsavory, inappropriate or offensive content—are on the rise. Every few months, new reports reveal major brands have had their video advertisements run on everything from fake health information to extremist content.

The study’s intent was to measure the quantifiable effects brand safety incidents have on consumer sentiment so executives can understand the cost of a brand safety incident at their company, said Guy Tytunovich, founder and CEO of CHEQ.

Joshua Lowcock, the chief digital officer and global brand safety officer at UM, said the study underscores that the risk of brand safety incidents extend beyond bad press and business squabbles.

“Consumers care, and when they see ads running against inappropriate content, they see these as deliberate choices,” Lowcock said. “It actually damages brand perception, even if [consumers] were favorable to a brand.”

The study relied on a nationally representative online panel of more than 2,300 computer and smartphone users, half of whom were shown pre-roll video advertisements for BMW and Hulu before viewing different types of video content on desktop and mobile environments. That content ranged from videos considered by most brands to be safe, like a clip from a talk show, to unsafe content, like a video about a school shooting. Consumers were also shown ads alongside brand-averse content, like a BMW ad that played before a video about a car accident involving a BMW vehicle, and vertical-averse content, like an ad for Hulu that played before a video that discussed the dangers of binge-watching television.

Tytunovich said most of the survey respondents provided written responses after viewing the content indicating that they were disturbed and upset that advertisers had generated revenue from inappropriate content. Some respondents said they believed advertisers were endorsing the offending content.

Tytunovich said he was surprised by the emotional responses from the consumers, but said that the results underscored the seriousness with which brand leaders should take brand safety issues. CHEQ, it should be said, stands to benefit from survey results like this, as it provides brand safety tools to brands.

Daniel Avital, CHEQ’s chief strategy officer, said the results highlight the importance of the values a brand espouses.

“We choose one brand over another because one projects the values that we agree with,” Avital said. “If you think a brand is endorsing something you don’t agree with—a racist article, an article about sexual assault, a political view you don’t like—if you don’t connect with that, then you don’t connect with their values.”

Lowcock said it’s not just advertisers who should care about the consequences of brand safety. Publishers have a responsibility to make sure that some types of content aren’t monetized at all, he stressed.

“We’re staunch and firm advocates for quality journalism,” Lowcock said. “My point is that publishers need to make decisions about what they consider for monetization, and that not all content should be eligible for monetization. Every time there is a brand safety incident, it’s bad for the industry and it’s bad for publishers.”

Read the full article here


Study Used Neuroscience to Measure Consumer’s Unconscious Response to Brands

LOS ANGELES – October 24, 2018 – Sponsored Lenses (AR) are more effective than traditional pre-roll ads, according to “The Power of Camera Advertising,” a study by Snapchat in partnership with MAGNA, the intelligence, investment and innovation unit within IPG Mediabrands, and IPG Media Lab, the media futures and advisory arm of IPG Mediabrands.

The study compared the emotional and cognitive responses participants had to Snapchat Sponsored Lenses and to :15 pre-roll video ads using mobile eye-tracking, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), heart rate (PPG) and brain pulses from Electroencephalography (EEG).  They found that Sponsored Lenses generated more engagement (heart rate and excitement levels were both significantly higher in response to Sponsored Lenses) and increased retention (unaided brand recall resulting from Sponsored Lenses was nearly 4X higher than from skippable pre-roll ads).

“Augmented reality allows marketers to bridge the physical divide between them and their customers, which is why it drives higher engagement and spurs more emotion than pre-roll ads,” said Carolina Arguelles, AR Product Strategy Lead at Snapchat.

Interestingly, even those who received Sponsored Lenses from friends are 40% more focused on the brand or product than they are with skippable pre-roll ads and exhibit higher retention as well.  Sponsored Lenses engender more positive emotional experiences amongst this group as well.

Brands have quickly found innovative ways of employing the technology in innovative ways. Mike Frank, SVP, Creative Director at Deutsch, said, Volkswagen’s 2018 World Cup campaign was all about giving American soccer fans a new country bandwagon to jump on since the US team didn’t qualify for the tournament. In addition to the TV spots, we used Snapchat to create country-specific lenses that went live during the most watched games of the tournament. And with the evolving platform, we were able to create an immersive experience for our fans by leveraging their audio triggers and multi-lens functionality, which allowed us to teach fans how to cheer in the language of their adopted team.”

“Measuring Sponsored Lenses was a challenge because they are an ad format unlike any other – they leverage the consumers’ camera and allow for particularly high levels of interaction,” says Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence, Solutions & Strategy, MAGNA Global.  “We expected that consumers would enjoy Sponsored Lenses more than traditional ads, but to get a deeper understanding than ever before of consumers’ unconscious responses, we activated the latest measurement technology to compare their effectiveness.”

“The Power of Camera Advertising,” is the latest in MAGNA and IPG Media Labs’ media trial series. Recently, the companies explored the tangible impact of brand (un)safety in “The Brand Safety Effect”; harnessing the power of content creators with Twitter; the power of content targeting with Zefr; best practices for mobile ads in its “Battle of the Mobile Ad Formats” study;  360 video ads in its “The 360 Effect” report; the use of haptic technology in mobile video ads in its “Ads You Can Feel: The New Mobile Ad Experience” study and the impact of viewability on performance based campaigns in its “Pulling Back the Curtain: Viewability + Direct Response” report.

Read the full report here



MAGNA is the centralized IPG Mediabrands resource that develops intelligence, investment and innovation strategies for agency teams and clients. We utilize our insights, forecasts and strategic relationships to provide clients with a competitive marketplace advantage.

MAGNA harnesses the aggregate power of all IPG media investments to create leverage in the market, negotiate preferred pricing and secure premium inventory to drive maximum value for our clients. The MAGNA Investment and Innovation teams architect go-to-market investment strategies across all channels including linear television, print, digital and programmatic on behalf of IPG clients. The team focuses on the use of emerging media opportunities, as well as data and technology-enabled solutions to drive optimal client performance and business results.

MAGNA Intelligence has set the industry standard for more than 60 years by predicting the future of media value. The MAGNA Intelligence team produces more than 40 annual reports on audience trends, media spend and market demand as well as ad effectiveness.


About IPG Media Lab

Part of the Interpublic network, the IPG Media Lab identifies and researches innovations and trends that will change the media landscape and how brands engage with their audiences. Since 2006, the Lab has worked with our clients and with industry partners who can help them best adapt to disruptive change. Its expertise, resources and consulting services also help to inform the learnings, strategies and business outcomes of all Interpublic agencies. For more information, please visit or follow @ipglab.


Media Contact:

Scott Berwitz

IPG Mediabrands

SVP, Global Corporate Communications



Under the Hood of Over-the-Top Measurement

Despite big budgets and high viewership on TV, measurement of brand KPIs is still evolving.  The challenge with existing brand lift methods is that they often rely on opportunity-to-see (OTS), which is a survey based method for determining the likelihood that someone saw a particular ad, with no evidence that they actually saw it.  To push the industry forward on measurement, the media trials team partnered with Roku to use their ACR (automatic content recognition) to identify the exact programs and ads viewers have used and when they viewed them.

The new study “Under the Hood of Over-the-Top Measurement,” revealed video ads on the OTT platform are 1.6X more effective per exposure at driving purchase intent than ads on broadcast and cable television.

Other key findings:

  • OTT Makes Brands Look Innovative:  Moving impressions to OTT from linear TV provides a 19 percent increase per exposure in perception that brand is innovative
  • OTT Helps Convey the Brand’s Story: OTT offers a 32 percent increase per exposure in perception that brand has a unique story to tell
  • Better Together: The greatest impact on overall brand favorability came from the combination of linear TV and OTT
  • OTT Ads Require Less Exposure Than Linear TV: To drive comparable brand lift, advertisers need 10 linear TV exposures, 7 OTT exposures, or 6.5 exposures on OTT and linear TV together
Click here for the full report

The Total Market Fallacy

The Hispanic audience is currently underserved by media and advertising; when polled, 61% of Hispanics say Total Market Ads fail to resonate with them.  In search of solutions, MAGNA, IPG Media Lab, and NBCUniversal collaborated to investigate the impact of cultural specificity on Hispanic audiences.  We tested both Total Market Ads, intended for a broad audience, and CultureFirst Ads, tailored to a cultural identity, to find that CultureFirst Ads establish an emotional connection and increase conversions.

With 74% of Hispanics reporting that culture impacts who they are today (as opposed to only 42% of non-Hispanics), culture is integral to the Hispanic identity and elicits a strong emotional response.  Culturally specific and accurate cues in advertising deliver a positive brand perception, which in turn influences purchase intent and inspires brand loyalty.

CultureFirst advertising is now a proven way to access an audience often neglected by Total Market campaigns.


Context and Device Key for Outstream Video Ads, Pre-Roll Still Most Effective Format

Much of our past video research has been conducted on pre-roll, but we now have more video ad format options than ever. Viewability and inventory issues have also led to new tactics, such as outstream or in-read video. In order to provide our clients with scientific evidence on how each format should be leveraged, we partnered with YuMe on a new media trial.

The comprehensive test accounted for not only a wide-array of video formats-with five in total-but also 12 ad strategies, such as contextual relevance, ad length, creative type, order of exposure, and more.

Key findings include:

  • Our old video standard, unskippable pre-roll, still holds its weight. Despite being less intrusive than mid-roll and outstream, it achieves the greatest break-through (ad recall).
  • Consumers tend to give mid-roll a pass. It feels most intrusive, but consumers find it less annoying than the newer outstream formats.
  • Social video offers a unique environment on mobile, allowing ads to feel the most integrated with the content.
  • Outstream appears to miss out on the novelty effect we often see with new ad products. Consumers already feel quite familiar with outstream despite its relative newness and user experience scores were lowest compared to other ad formats.
  • However, outstream is rated much more positively among those who complete it, indicating good targeting is key. Also, while we only pay for outstream impressions that are 100% viewable, the industry should still aim at ensuring a good user experience for all.
  • To provide better guidance on how outstream should be optimized, we were able to uncover some clear best practices:
  • Ensuring outstream ads run in contextually relevant articles (e.g. video ad for restaurant in article about food). This is a good tactic in general, but especially important for outstream video, which appear in articles.
  • PC provides a better canvas for outstream than mobile.
  • Branded content performs particularly well in this format compared to traditional video ads.

Download the deck here