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78% of Web users say brands tarred by brush with dodgy content

~ first research into consumer concerns about misplaced ads shows Coca Cola has most to lose ~

78% of web users would think less of a brand if it allowed an ad to appear next to offensive or inappropriate content.

Independent research by online specialist iCD Research amongst 1,000 UK web users also found that 62% of all web users believe that they may have seen ads next to offensive or inappropriate content. A majority of all web users (52%) thought the problem would get worse.

Respondents rated violent content as the most damaging for a brand to appear next to, followed in order by drugs references and adult content. iCD Research also found that Coca Cola was the brand with the most to lose from any association with such content, followed by brands such as Cadbury and Tesco. Advertisers were the most likely to be blamed for allowing ads to appear next to such content (40%), rather than the website (25%) or ad agency (23%, with the remainder being unsure where to apportion blame).

Paul Dixon, managing director at iCD Research, said: “Internet advertising can present great opportunities but also risks. In this case, risks increase with the size of the fast growing ad network industry as recent events have shown*."

"The headline result reflects the strength of feeling amongst those who may only have heard of an association between a brand and dodgy content. The workings of the industry are obscure to consumers and our research shows advertisers are the most likely to get the blame when there are problems. Agencies and ad networks working for advertisers have a duty to ensure that campaigns are not only effective but that brand reputations are protected.”

Online research specialist iCD Research surveyed a demographically representative sample of 1,000 people in the UK on June 14, 2008.

• If a brand’s ad appeared next to offensive or inappropriate material online, 78% of the total respondent base said it would have a negative effect on their perception of the brand. Exactly half of those said the effect would be ‘very negative’.

• When asked ‘Have you ever seen an ad displayed next to website content which could be considered offensive or inappropriate?’, 7% said ‘definitely yes’, 15% said ‘probably’, 40% said ‘possibly’ and the remainder said ‘definitely not’.

• A majority of respondents, 52%, thought the problem of misplaced ads would get worse. 24% thought it would stay the same, 4% thought it would improve and the remainder didn’t know.

• The brands with most to lose in order included Coca Cola, Cadbury, Lego, Tesco, BA, Sky, Mercedes Benz, Nike, Apple, Thomas Cook, Guinness and Orange. These brands were selected for rating by respondents based on their inclusion in the UK Superbrands list in 2007-8

• It would be worst for ads to appear next to: Drugs references (23%), adult content (23%), violence (22%), weapons (10%), nudity (8%), extreme views (6%), swearing (4%), bad news (2%), alcohol, tobacco and gambling (1% each).

• If an ad is allowed to appear next to offensive or inappropriate content, respondents said the party most responsible would be: the advertiser (40%), the website (25%), the agency (23%), other/don’t know (13%).

*E-consultancy: the market for UK online advertising networks will grow by 60% in 2008 to an estimated value of £385 million.

Notes to editors:

iCD Research

iCD Research is a research consultancy which provides clients including The International Herald Tribune, World Press Group, Churchill Insurance and Dorset Cereals with insight and analysis.

If you have any enquiries, please direct them to Nik Pollinger at Wide PR:
nik at / 0870 010 9998

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