A turning point is emerging in the advertising investment policy of large companies. An earthquake that could dry up investment flows to social networks – starting with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to the benefit of other more traditional media but considered less divisive and actively engaged in countering the spread of hate messages.
Just today on the first page of the Financial Times the results of a research conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (Wfa), an organization with which associates account for 90% of the global advertising budget, appear. Well the research shows that over 41% of respondents are evaluating the possibility of suspending their digital campaigns on social media precisely because of the hate content spread by these platforms. The research involved 58 WFA members – responsible for more than 90 billion of advertising investments internationally – and the survey results suggest that the boycott of social media could extend to the majority of large advertising investors.
One of the most interesting aspects of the survey – reports the Financial Times – the very high number of brands that have declared that they are reviewing their strategies for allocating long-term advertising investments and pressuring them to radically change the social media approach in the management of racial intolerance content, hate speech and other dangerous content, WFA CEO Stephan Loerke stressed.
Although Facebook makes more than three quarters of its advertising revenues from small and medium-sized companies, the boycott carried out by dozens of big brands has damaged the group’s reputation to the point that last week the prices plummeted by 9% in one sitting alone. Advertising investors who have suspended social media campaigns include big names: among them Unilever, Verizon, Adidas, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Ford, and HP. Some of these brands have decided to boycott Facebook for a month, others have decided to withdraw from communication via social networks for at least six months. Danish Lego, a leading brand in children’s games, has also joined the boycott for a period of at least 30 days, explains a statement. Julia Goldin, the company’s marketing manager, the first European group to join the advertising embargo, underlines that the company wants to contribute to the development of a positive and inclusive digital environment, free from hate speech, discrimination and disinformation.
The first reactions to these stances begin to become tangible. After the share price crash, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced measures to block violent and hateful content in order to protect weaker social groups – such as immigrants – from these attacks. But since the boycott of the big brands started, the entire advertising industry has been pushing for a structural change in the approach of the problem by social network platforms. These include the request for tools that allow advertisers to have better control over the positioning of advertisements, a consistent classification of harmful content and an independent evaluation system for this information.