NewsGuard, Publicis Groupe partner to combat misinformation 

Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s largest communications groups, has partnered with NewsGuard to provide clients with more responsible, trustworthy advertising platforms and content opportunities to combat the “infodemic” in media.

Through the partnership, Publicis Groupe clients will gain access to NewsGuard’s Responsible Advertising for News Segments (RANS), an inclusion and exclusion tool for marketers curated by NewsGuard’s team of trained journalists. This tool provides Publicis Groupe clients with a constantly updated exclusion list to protect them from having their ads unintentionally fund thousands of misinformation and hoax websites. Company executives say the RANS inclusion list restores advertising to quality news sites, from trustworthy global news brands to smaller publishers serving communities of interest that are being denied much-needed advertising revenue due to the overuse of keyword blocking.

Publicis Groupe’s move to incorporate NewsGuard’s offering into its proprietary safety and standards portfolio to clients represents a commitment to helping shape more transparent and credible ways to advertise within and alongside the news.

“We’ve moved beyond brand safety and suitability to help our clients champion brand integrity across everything they do – ensuring their brand values are reflected across all of their advertising efforts,” says Yale Cohen, executive VP, Global Digital Standards, Publicis Media Exchange (PMX). “Being able to provide this added value for our clients will give them important tools to avoid misinformation and disinformation and identify trusted news sources.”

Publicis Groupe’s healthcare media agency, Publicis Health Media, also recently partnered with NewsGuard on the launch of its HealthGuard browser plug-in to power a new public service campaign, “VaxFacts,” following a rise in misinformation and hoaxes relating to the COVID-19 health crisis and vaccine development. Management adds that HealthGuard’s ratings and nutrition labels have been integrated into PHM’s proprietary process for ensuring that clients’ publishing partners meet the highest standards of content, enabling brands and consumers to more easily navigate complex health and wellness challenges more easily by relying on trustworthy publishers.

“Today, misinformation in the healthcare sector means life or death,” says Andrea Palmer, president, Publicis Health Media. “Being able to leverage NewsGuard’s suite of tools has been critical to ensure consumers better understand COVID-19 and are able to find reliable health information as they browse online. We have an obligation to restore the accuracy and trustworthiness of content in all aspects of our industry.”

NewsGuard reports have found that programmatic advertising – which represents more than 85 percent of all digital advertising, totaling $80 billion in annual spending in the U.S. in 2020 – currently funds misinformation and defunds quality news. For example, more than 4,000 blue-chip companies inadvertently funded COVID-19 misinformation sites through their programmatic advertising during the pandemic, and more than 1,000 brands funded “Stop the Steal” sites leading up to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. At the same time, much of the advertising inventory is currently deemed brand unsafe by keyword blocklists of terms such as “COVID-19,” “Black” and “gay,” cutting off ad revenue from hundreds of reliable news sites. 

“It’s clear that the current tools in the market, most of which use some form of artificial intelligence or keyword matching, are not protecting advertisers from funding misinformation – while at the same time depriving credible, trusted news outlets serving communities of interest of important advertising revenue through keyword blocklisting,” said NewsGuard Co-CEO Steven Brill. “That’s why we created RANS based on human intelligence, in the form of detailed, rigorous, strictly apolitical assessments from trained journalists.”

“We are delighted to work with Publicis Health Media to provide access to HealthGuard during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Sarah Brandt, NewsGuard executive VP for partnerships. “PHM has been a great partner in making people aware of this tool to protect their families from healthcare hoaxes, including relating to the vaccines.”