Study reveals some of the most entertaining “misaligned” content can have the biggest negative impact on brand KPIs

New York, NY – September 22, 2021 – New research conducted by MAGNA Media Trials, MAGNA’s industry-leading proprietary research offering, in partnership with Channel Factory, explores the layers of content suitability and how it can affect brands’ advertising efforts. “The Proximity Effect: Quantifying the Impact of Misaligned Content in the Wild West of Video” explored what brands need to know about misaligned content in different ad environments, as well as the role proximity plays when it comes to misaligned content.

Misaligned content for the test brands was determined as content that commonly produces visceral reactions in people, including skin conditions (e.g. pimple popping), ASMR (videos inducing autonomous sensory meridian response) and Mukbang (video host consumes various quantities of food). The study recruited users of popular video apps offering different video environments and had the users spend time on the platforms as they typically would (e.g. pre-roll video and video card). Users were served a mix of misaligned content and standard content.

A critical finding of the study is that misaligned content erodes the impact of hardworking ad creative that had proven strong performance in the standard content. In addition, the study found that brands need to be proactive about how to treat misaligned content to avoid diminishing the effectiveness of otherwise powerful ads.

Brands should also keep an eye on popular, trending content to ensure the appropriate steps can be taken to avoid unfortunate brand and content alignments, since not all trending content is suitable for all brands. Content can be categorized as icky, yet it’s engaging and watchable: while people rated misaligned content as less “premium” and more “triggering,” “embarrassing,” and “not safe for work,” most people chose to watch the misaligned content to completion, with 68% rating it as “entertaining.”

Additional findings of the study include:

  • Misaligned content diminishes the impact of otherwise hardworking ads: The impact on purchase intent diminishes when the ad appears next to misaligned content. The study saw a loss of impact on purchase intent (-8%), brand respect (-9%), brand is high quality (-5%), and brand I trust (-6%) compared to standard content.
  • People remember a brand’s ad, but for the wrong reasons: +41% recall ads in misaligned content while +32% in standard content. However, impact on perceptions of brand thoughtfulness (-10% loss of impact) and caring about customers (-7% loss of impact) diminishes when next to misaligned
  • Consumers feel brands shouldn’t be aligned with certain types of content: Many people felt brands who had ads in misaligned content “leaves a bad memory attached to the brand,” and found the content association to be “weird” or “low caliber” for the brand.
  • Brands are held most accountable in pre-roll environments: In a pre-roll environment, brands are more likely to be held accountable for the content they appear next to: consumers were 1.5X as likely to feel the brand endorsed misaligned content in pre-roll video compared to the video card environment.
  • In a video card environment, the closer the ad, the stronger the brand association: Consumers were +10% more likely to believe the brand supported the misaligned content that the ad was immediately next to compared to two videos away. Brand KPIs were most likely to be harmed when the ad appeared immediately before the misaligned content, making it the biggest concern in video card environments.

“A major and critical finding of the study is that some of the most engaging misaligned content actually had the worst repercussions for brands,” said Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence Solutions, MAGNA. “The industry should continue to learn about the effects of misaligned content and build technologies accordingly to ensure appropriate and aligned placements regardless of the video environment.”

“We understand that content alignment and suitability is a spectrum and can vary by verticals, brands, and campaigns,” said Jed Hartman, President, Americas, Channel Factory. “Advertisers can see immense benefits from taking a deep dive into what their specific consumers’ thresholds are and working with video partners to custom-curate campaign content targeting to drive more positive brand results.”


Download the full study


About Channel Factory

Channel Factory is a global technology and data platform that maximizes both performance efficiency and contextual suitability and alignment, turning YouTube’s 5 billion videos and 500 hours per minute of new content into brand-suitable, efficient advertising opportunities. Channel Factory’s mission is to create a suitable video ecosystem that connects creators, brands, and consumers – by enabling advertisers access to the most relevant videos, channels, and creators.

Through their proprietary platform that harnesses the power of the deepest YouTube dataset in the industry, Channel Factory has enabled advanced brand suitability, customized content alignment targeting, and maximum performance for the world’s biggest brands. Channel Factory’s algorithm ensures not only that advertisers run against content that aligns with their brand but also delivers outcomes by optimizing campaigns using active and historical campaign performance data.

Channel Factory has offices across the USA and is present in over 30 countries worldwide including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Ukraine, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

About MAGNA:

MAGNA is the leading global media investment and intelligence company. Our trusted insights, proprietary trials offerings, industry-leading negotiation and unparalleled consultative solutions deliver an actionable marketplace advantage for our clients and subscribers.

We are a team of experts driven by results, integrity and inquisitiveness. We operate across five key competencies, supporting clients and cross-functional teams through partnership, education, accountability, connectivity and enablement. For more information, please visit our website: and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Media Contact:

Zinnia Gill
Director, Global Corporate Communications
(646) 965-4271
[email protected]