Report: Ads Served Near Content about Rape and Sexual Assault among Most Common Brand-Safety Violations

Apr 26, 2019

SC Pressroom Cybersecurity's leading news distribution network

NEW YORK,-- More than one-third of brand-safety violations on online news sites involve brands serving ads next to content about rape and sexual assault, a new study from CHEQ has revealed.

The military-grade cybersecurity company analyzed 70 global iconic brands which served ads on mainstream news stories published online between January 2018 and March 2019.

The study, "Bad impression: Brand-Safety Violations on Mainstream News Sites," analyzed global advertisers that collectively spend billions of dollars each year online.

CHEQ found these companies advertised alongside 178 highly sensitive articles, which in total, generated tens of thousands of unsafe impressions. CHEQ researchers spent three hours per brand searching for online ads which were served next to content considered inappropriate.

Rape and sexual assault stories make up most violations

Rape and sexual assault stories made up 34 percent of brand-safety violations, which involved online advertising from leading U.S. food-makers, automobile manufacturers, tech leaders, and retailers appearing next to graphic stories about rape, including sexual assaults of young children.

In some cases, the firms, which included 21 Fortune-500 companies, saw their ads served in highly brand-sensitive associations. For instance, a multinational digital home entertainment brand had an ad served beside a news article about the recording of sexual assaults. In many cases, the advertising took the form of pre-roll ads — with brands unwittingly introducing many of these news articles.

Murder and shooting follow closely for brand violations

The second biggest violation involved these companies advertising next to stories about brutal murders (making up 29% of brand-safety violations). Thirteen of these articles were high-profile shootings in the U.S., alongside several stories with graphic details of violence. In one case, a family cereal maker advertised next to a brutal story about a "Tinder-date killer" who strangled and dismembered his victim.

In 3% of cases, companies advertised regular promotions next to stories detailing unfolding crises at their own companies, including a product recall, while another brand served promotions to consumers reading about an operations meltdown at its own organization.

Other prominent brand-safety misfires included advertising next to natural disasters (8%), violence (6%), accidents (6%), and distress (4%).

Guy Tytunovich, CHEQ's CEO and Founder said: "Far from diminishing in the past year, the need to tackle brand safety has been elevated to a top priority for CMOs and CEOs. Despite many efforts to make brands safer online, our research shows that every day the biggest companies see their ads appearing next to news content which does not align with their mission and marketing goals. More must be done to ensure suitable protection for advertisers, such as creating greater transparency about how decisions on brand safety are made and working closely with publishers to sustain an ad-driven news media in a brand-safe landscape." 

The research focused on 70 iconic and multinational brand leaders across 31 sectors. The brands included 39 U.S. companies, including 21 Fortune 500 companies, and multinational leaders based in countries including the UK, FranceJapanItaly, and Germany.

About CHEQ 
CHEQ is a global cybersecurity company and a pioneer of Autonomous Brand Safety, protecting the digital ad spend for the world's leading brands. With offices in TokyoNew York, and Tel Aviv, CHEQ is transforming ad verification by introducing military-grade AI to tackle brand safety, ad-fraud and viewability preemptively and in real-time. Backed by Battery Ventures, the company's mission is to help sustain the digital ecosystem by protecting advertisers from the risks of online advertising and helping them regain confidence in the space

Tags: United States, English