Fake news was declared as the Collin’s Dictionary word of the year in 2017, but fake news isn’t new news.
Recently, fake news has gone from a social media phenomenon to an angry political slur to being cemented into popular culture. Donald Trump didn’t coin the term but since it hit the media, misinformation has saturated news sources and led people to base decisions on it.
From influencing the way people perceive brands and campaigns, we’ve seen on a worldwide scale how it can positively and negatively influence marketing strategies. However, fake news doesn’t have to be large scale in order to damage a brand’s trust and reliability.
What Drives Fake News?
Unfortunately, fake news isn’t just spread by an ignorant relative or a friend with a flair for the dramatic. Automated social media accounts often create the appearance of viral success which then leads to Twitter and Facebook’s algorithms giving the tweet or post priority.
The same accounts and bots that spread false information also generate traffic using clickbait headlines. You’ve seen those stories before. It usually starts with something like, “You won’t believe what happens next”, accompanied by an image that grabs your attention. Clicking on them takes you a site that is saturated with pay-per-click adverts.
How Does This Influence PPC?
When clicking on these ads, you will probably end up on a site with low UX value and is saturated with ad-filled pages.
If you do end up powering through the article and manage to wade your way through all the ads, you probably don’t click on any of the adverts or pay much attention to what is being advertised.
The investment banking company, JP Morgan, recently conducted a manual audit of 400 000 websites that were displaying its ads. Their discovery showed that all but 5 000 of those websites were adding very little value. As a result, they pulled their adverts from all the sites except the 5 000 that were getting genuine engagement.
What Can We Do?
Ensure that there is a direct relationship between the advertiser and the site. The website owner should be happy to provide clear, quality website metrics. The same goes when you are working with a third-party provider.
Fake News and Social Media
After the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook debacle, major damage has been done to the already fragile public perception of social media.
However, despite the fall out of the scandal, social media has become such a big part of our lives that many users don’t want to close their accounts thus leaving themselves open to the pitfalls of fake news.
Fake News of the Future
Now that we are so painfully aware of fake news, social media platforms have committed themselves to eradicate the spread of it. While it may take time to win consumer trust back, it doesn’t seem likely that social media will go anywhere. Digital marketers will need to work on strategies and build relationships with media owners to ensure that they aren’t paying for hollow clicks.
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