Zefr and IPG Mediabrands Launch Partnership to Combat Misinformation

IPG Mediabrands and Zefr announce an agency partnership designed to tackle misinformation and enhance brand safety and suitability for online campaigns. Backed by extensive research data from IPG Mediabrands’ media intelligence and investment unit, MAGNA, and powered by tech-driven performance unit, KINESSO, the new collaboration will deliver campaign solutions that enable brands with the capability to avoid misinformation across social platforms in priority areas including political, climate, healthcare, AI-generated, and brand-specific content. This partnership extends the existing collaboration between IPG Mediabrands and Zefr; and it is aligned to the agency network’s Media for Good efforts which focus on driving impact within and outside of its business through Brand Safety, Media Responsibility, Marketplace Equity, and Sustainability.

“Helping our clients to protect their brands while reaching their audiences through the most effective channels is core to the work we do as their agency partners,” said Dani Benowitz, US & Global President, MAGNA. “By engaging in specialized partnerships like this with Zefr, we are ensuring our clients have access not only to our in-house expertise, but also to the best tools and capabilities the industry has to offer, so their media investments are strategic and made with relevant, high industry standards in mind.”

Preview of Zefr’s Capabilities Now Available:

  • Pre-Campaign Video Responsibility: Access to customized pre-campaign Media Responsibility Profiles, which leverages AI to proactively to block unsuitable categories like Misinformation and GARM High Risk content across social platforms, while maintaining scale and performance.
  • Custom Misinformation Avoidance for UGC: Incorporates customized dashboards for sensitive categories, e.g., the U.S. elections and climate denialism, with multi-modal video, image, text, and audio detection for full misinformation content avoidance powered by integrations with global fact-checks, beyond publisher or webpage-based analysis.
  • Custom Video Algorithms: This technology will improve responsible AI in programmatic video and apply KINESSO’s brand suitability guidelines with campaign specific outcomes and KPI goals in video.

The ad environment is primed for misinformation with major cyclical events and growing ad spend.

In 2024 ad spend is expected to grow by +7.2% globally to reach USD $914 billion with economic stabilization, digital innovation, and cyclical events pushing spending higher, according to MAGNA’s most recent Global Ad Forecast. Overall, most industry verticals will grow their ad spend this year, and digital pure players, short-form video pure-play (+9%), and social platforms (+15%) are among the media channels expected to reap the benefits in ad sales and market growth.

“At Zefr, we have been proactive in tackling misinformation across walled gardens, combining advanced AI for multi-media with global fact-checking networks,” said Andrew Serby, Chief Commercial Officer at Zefr. “IPG’s leadership in combating misinformation for their clients is second to none, and this partnership underscores that commitment towards this critical issue. Together, we are accelerating the fight against misinformation across walled gardens, applying media responsibility to client investment around the world.”

Building on previous research on consumer perceptions of misinformation, the new MAGNA Media Trials and Zefr study “Ads in Misinformation” tested ad effectiveness of standard content (i.e. verified information) against misinformation for brands in the Auto, CPG, Insurance, and Finance industries. The study included more than 2,000 participants, who browsed an in-feed social media experience in a controlled, mobile environment. Each participant was randomly served an ad then surveyed to measure their feedback against brand KPIs and ad adjacency. The study found that advertising next to misinformation led to wasted ad dollars for brands, eroded brand perception, and negatively impacted performance KPIs. And while political and AI-generated “fake news” can be easier to spot, consumers still are critical of brands that advertise next to it.


Key Findings from the MAGNA Media Trials Study:

  • Ad Adjacency: Results found that 47% of participants believed a brand’s integrity is compromised when its ads appear next to misinformation.
  • Political: Regardless of political affiliation or stance, misinformation was found inappropriate, as agreed by 76% of those in the middle, 83% of left-leaning, and 74% of right-leaning.
  • Generative AI: Misinformation generated by AI is well-spotted, with 36% of participants correctly identifying this type of misinformation, but, despite their fascination, it’s not well- tolerated (64% find it inappropriate for brands to advertise next to misinformation) 
  • Healthcare: Science-related information is tricky to identify because it confuses people. The study found that only 22% of participants could correctly identify healthcare misinformation, while 53% were unsure and 25% thought the information was real.
  • Climate: For eco-friendly brands, 44% of those surveyed stated they would question a brand’s overall sustainability efforts if its ads appeared next to environmental misinformation. And following the trend of challenges identifying science-related misinformation, most participants who viewed a climate misinformation ad thought the misinformation was real (36%) or were unsure (42%).
  • Negative Impact on KPIs & Investment: Uncertainty about misinformation causes ads to lose impact in the areas of search intent, brand preference, and brands lose respect and trustworthiness with their most valued customers – not to mention wasting media spend – when their ads appear next to misinformation.


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