Sick of fake news

Rs-5-Crore-Penalty-For-Writing-Fake-News-SocialpostFake news is everywhere, swaying politics, election results, public opinion.

Fake news permeates our business too.

You only need to attend a conference or browse your Twitter feed to come across media business fake news, such as, for example:

“Brands are dead.”

At a recent panel (Chatham House Rules) there was a fellow panellist who said that brands were dead.  Dead?  Really?  No Marmite in your cupboard then?  No Heinz tomato ketchup on your chips?  No Landrover in your drive?  As the recent Thinkbox research “From Brand to Bland: what happens when you take away people’s favourite brands?” shows brands are as crucial to real people as ever.  The crafty people at Thinkbox took away the branding from people’s favourite products and then gave them back to them.  The respondents were all extremely disappointed with their unbranded products.  They all said the flavour had gone, or the efficacy wasn’t as good.  And were unanimous in their disbelief when the researchers owned up.    Brands dead.  I don’t think so.

The over-riding example of fake news however today is this one:

“Data will bring more accountability.”

The promise of more data in media was clear.  There would be more accountability, more certainty, less assumption.  As Eaon Pritchard points out in the new APG book “Eat your Greens, fact based thinking to improve your brand’s health” the promises in digital media have fallen long short of expectations.  Pritchard writes: “social media marketing, content marketing, qr codes (remember them), VR/AR, chatbots, programmatic deliver and adtech have all arrived, been heralded as “the next big thing” then gradually landed in a ditch of disappointment.  He concludes “a decent rule of thumb would be to demand that the more extraordinary the claim of any tech platform of gizmo the stronger the evidence must be to support that claim”.

As MediaCom’s CDDO, Ben Rickard likes to reference: “people say that data is the new oil.  I would agree, it is exactly like oil.  If it is unrefined then it is just a slippery mess.”

We were promised that viewing figures for video online would be more accurate than just BARB could deliver with its panel of only thousands, who counted as viewers just if they were in the room with the TV on.  How could information from millions of data points be less accurate?  Easily.  If you compare the definition of a view by BARB (at least 50% of the ad) with that of a view on social media which might be for just 3 seconds.  How did we get ourselves into this?

Here’s another one:

“Media context means nothing”.

After all, if an advertiser can reach an individual via accurate behavioural targeting, just after they’ve searched for a particular product, what would it matter where the ad ran?  Quite a lot as it turns out.  A credible, safe environment means so much more than perhaps many people really ever understood as these technologies were developed.


Media people, it’s time for a reset.  Time for truth to overcome fake news.  Time to call time on claims that have little basis in fact. Change is inevitable, nonsense claims are not.

 

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