Richard Wilson, director and co-founder of Stop Funding Hate, notes how the growth of consumer-driven campaigns like his own and Sleeping Giants reflects rising public concern over the impact of hateful “clickbait” content – both online and in traditional media.

Conscious media investment

This article is part of a series of articles from the WARC Guide to conscious media investment.

Consumers increasingly expect the companies they shop with to put their money where their mouth is. If a business makes commitments to diversity and inclusion, for example by supporting Pride or #BlackLivesMatter, then the reputational risks of advertising with channels that fuel racism, homophobia and transphobia become all the more acute.

A recent report by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Brand Safety Institute (BSI) found 91% of respondents said it was important for advertisers to make sure their ads are not placed near dangerous, offensive, or inappropriate content.

Experts have warned for years that hate in our media fuels hate crime on our streets. In 2015, the situation in Britain became so bad that the United Nations spoke out, warning that “History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonizing foreigners and minorities… it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used… simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers”.

One YouGov poll commissioned by Stop Funding Hate found that 58% of the UK public believe “companies should withdraw their advertising if it is placed next to content they think is racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic”.

A significant opportunity to build trust

But there is also a significant opportunity here, both for advertisers and publishers. The need for responsible, high quality journalism has never been clearer. Publishers who maintain robust journalistic standards, and align with international best practice principles such as the Reporters Without Borders Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), can clearly differentiate themselves from the clickbait merchants.

Brands who follow the Conscious Advertising Network’s guidelines, and use their advertising spend to proactively support ethical journalism and JTI-certified media, can show that they are living up to their values, responding to customer concerns, and playing an active part in solving the global crisis of ad-funded hate and misinformation.

Read more articles from the WARC Guide to conscious media investment.

Planning for inclusion: A media case for conscious advertising
Christopher Kenna, Chris Ladd, Francesca Leronni, Martin Radford

Can responsible media investing be operationalized?
Krystal Olivieri and Belinda J. Smith