Marketers, Stop Funding Disinformation!

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One of the questions people ask most when we see the awful consequences of disinformation – vaccine rejection, mass shootings, seditious acts – is what we can do to prevent it.

I’ll give you something fast and easy you can do today if you’re in charge of advertising budgets: stop funding disinformation sites.

It’s super easy to do this if you know your way around advertising systems.

First, who shouldn’t you fund? This is one of the rare cases where there is a legitimate “both sides” argument: there’s garbage on the internet from radical left-wing and radical right-wing sites that are equally flat out wrong.

So your first stop should be to AdFontes’ Interactive Media Bias Chart. Take a look at the chart and you’ll see it’s divided into political spectrum horizontally, and truthfulness vertically:

Ad Chart

I strongly encourage you not to buy ads from companies in the misleading info category and below, regardless of political position.

Consider not buying ads on sites that are on the extremes, either. If you don’t love the hyper-polarized environment today, then you shouldn’t put ad dollars in those companies’ pockets.

Once you’ve got your list of sites/accounts, head over to your ad systems. For example, in Google Ads, you’ll find the placement exclusion lists section under settings:

Placement exclusions

Call it whatever you like, then start putting in domain names of sites that are in the disinformation extremes:

Do not advertise

Congratulations, you’ve now avoided giving money to sites actively promoting disinformation. Rinse and repeat on every platform where you have the ability to do this – and if an ad platform doesn’t offer these capabilities, then consider not advertising on that platform, lest your money be spent doing things that are probably in opposition to your corporate ethics and values.

For good or ill, money runs the world. We get what we pay for – and if we, as marketers in control of ad budgets – are funding disinformation, then that’s exactly what we’ll get.

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