One of the big stories as of late is the rise of fake news. Facebook, Google and other tech giants are working hard in an attempt to combat the onslaught of news that is misleading, disputed or just downright inaccurate. An interesting byproduct of the fake news phenomenon has been an increased interest in real, factual, journalism.
The fake news epidemic was at a fever pitch during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The New York Times reported that at least in one case, the news was being created and spread purely for profit. Opportunistic individuals had discovered that fake news that confirmed ones own political beliefs were extremely likely to generate traffic through social media. The fake news site could then prey on unsuspecting ad networks (such as Google AdWords/AdSense) to turn the traffic into profit.
Now Facebook and other social media sites are working to stop the spread of fake news. Just last week, Facebook announced that it will be fact checking news stories and shame posts with a ‘Disputed’ tag.
Conscientious readers have now become fully aware of the issue and have learned that much of the “news” being shown in their various social feeds may be of a dubious nature and from dubious sources.
The backlash from this is likely to be two fold. On one hand, the ability for new news sites to gain traction and grow may be hindered by an increase in reader scrutiny. On the other hand, it sets a high bar that news organizations must achieve to be viewed as reputable on the web.
Advertising plays a vital role in this and its role will increase over time. While many of the promotors of fake news profited at the expense of unknowing advertisers and ad networks, the problem is now known and being actively addressed. Solutions are being devised to keep advertising dollars from making it into the hands of fake news publishers. Advertisers don’t want their ads shown next to fake news stories and readers don’t want to read fake news. Social media and the ad-tech industry can make this happen.
As part of the fake news fallout, we expect to also see an increase in direct-buy advertising (the kind that we at AdPlugg specialize in). With network, blind and remnant ad buys going to unknown sites of unknown or questionable reputations, more advertisers are going to want to place ads directly with reputable sites.
It has been reported that traditional media outlets such as Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and others have all seen increases in subscriptions and traffic since the onslaught of fake news. We expect to soon here reports of increased ad revenue as well.
For publishers, the only path forward now becomes one toward legitimate factual reporting that gains the respect of both readers and advertisers.