Breaking the Myth? Gen Z and Mothers Unfazed by News Ads


Advertisers might be missing out on a substantial audience by avoiding advertising on News/Talk radio for fear of “unsafe” topics. A new report titled The Future of News: Ad Adjacency Study suggests that concerns about brand safety in news advertising may be misplaced.

Traditionally, advertisers have avoided placing ads next to polarizing topics such as war, politics, and crime, fearing it might negatively impact brand perception. Instead, they prefer “safe” subjects like entertainment and sports.

This new study, conducted by Stagwell, surveyed 50,000 American adults. The research aimed to understand the impact of ad placement around news topics considered both “unsafe” and “safe.”

The findings reveal that the type of news story shown with an ad does not significantly affect purchase intent or favorability towards the brand. The study found that Gen Z and mothers, two key demographics, were minimally influenced by the content of the news stories in relation to the ads.

However, the 2024 presidential election showed some variation: Republicans viewed brands advertised alongside Biden-related stories less favorably, while Democrats showed a similar trend with Trump-related stories. Yet, these differences were minor, ranging from 1% to 10%.

This supports the argument for news advertising presented to Radio Ink by Ad Fontes Media Chief Strategy Officer Lou Paskalis. Paskalis emphasized how it’s crucial to communicate the benefits of local media advertising to businesses effectively.

According to an Ad Fontes Media study, core news fans possess the best socioeconomic and demographic factors. They are more likely to have multiple graduate degrees, use iPhones, travel abroad, and have high discretionary incomes – traits that make them key drivers of business. Despite this, many marketers avoid news advertising, leading to an 80% decline in advertiser investments in news over 15 years and a 50% decline in newsroom employment, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Reflecting on recent trends, Paskalis notes that while advertisers risk their brand reputation on platforms like YouTube, filled with user-generated content, they avoid news due to perceived brand risk. This approach needs reevaluation, as it’s illogical to view YouTube as safer than news.


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