Study: Customers Boycotting Brands With Ads Near Offensive Digital Content

June 15, 2017

11:30 am

Everyone knows that being committed to social good is no longer just an option for companies hoping to enjoy success. Making an effort to give back has become an important part of running a business, and if you haven’t gotten on board, you better do it fast. But that may not be enough, particularly when it comes to ad placement online.

According to a CMO Council study of 2,000 adults in North America and the United Kingdom, nearly half of customers would reconsider or boycott products and companies that were seen advertising near objectionable online content. That’s right, anything deemed offensive, rude, or even just mean could lose your customers faster than a bad diversity report.

“CMOs and brand advertisers are increasingly concerned about various aspects of digital and programmatic advertising, including concerns about their ads showing up next to offensive content,” said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “This consumer survey demonstrates that those concerns are well founded. Advertising placed next to objectionable content is damaging to a brand while ads that accompany more trusted content and media are more accepted.”

With company ethics becoming a more pressing issue for customers as the days go by, distancing yourself from hateful or offensive content online is a necessity for staying ahead of the competition. Lance Armstrong lost his endorsement for Nike when he was found to have taken performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. So why should you keep giving your advertising dollars to websites that make the Westboro Baptist Church press page look like Club Penguin?

“Whether they’re hailing a cab or buying a stock, people care about the ethical business practices of companies,” said Brandon Krieg, CEO and cofounder of Stash.

While you might not think ad placement is that important, think again. More than 63 percent of customers in the survey insisted that the same ads have different meanings depending on their context. Even more so, 60 percent said that offensive content online has made them seek out more trusted sources of news, which is where you should be putting your ads. It may cost a little more, but if you end up going for the deal, you’ll end up getting what you paid for.

Read more about advertising tips on Tech.Co

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at

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