CANNES — “No news is good news”, the saying goes. Those concerned about an informed citizenry would beg to differ.

And advertisers, too, should sit up and care about the health of the news ecology.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Lou Paskalis, Chief Strategy Officer, Ad Fontes Media, explains why ad buyers should come back to current affairs.

Ad Fontes Media is an organization founded in 2018 to rate media sources for political bias and reliability.

Its Media Bias Chart has been shared widely online. But the group also offers other products and services, including data that helps brands, ad agencies and ad-tech platforms score inventory sources.

The decline in ad spend in news

“The state of news as an ad platform right now is not very good,” says Paskalis, who joined Ad Fontes Media in March 2023 after stints with Bank Of America and MMA Global.

Advertisers concerned about reputational risk and brand safety have shied away from news, leading to an 80% decline in ad spend in the last 15 years.

This has resulted in a 50% decline in people working in newsrooms, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “We need more journalism to defend the truth and uncover the truth,” Paskalis argues.

The role of Ad Fontes Media

Ad Fontes Media aims to provide a platform that allows brand marketers to govern how they can come back into news by rating on reliability and bias.

“Our rating methodology involves taking three people – one self-identified left-leaning, one self-identified centrist, and one self-identified right-leaning – putting them together on a Zoom call to review an article, a video, a podcast,” Paskalis explains.

The goal is to reach a consensus on the reliability of the content.

The company rates every day, with a recorded 1,200 pieces of content per week and plans to scale up using AI to cover almost all news content by the first quarter of next year.

The financial upside for marketers

Paskalis believes the financial upside for marketers in news is profound.

“When you are really looking to grow your business, the very first thing you do is say, who am I reaching and where can I find incremental reach?,” he says.

  • He believes news provides significant audiences not found in lifestyle or sports.
  • Moreover, news consumers typically have higher household incomes, are more likely to travel abroad, own electric vehicles, and have post-graduate degrees.
  • Research overwhelmingly shows that consumers want marketers to show up in news and do not penalize them if they are adjacent to contentious articles, Paskalis says.

The moral and societal obligation to support news

Paskalis asserts that advertisers have an obligation to support news, as journalism is vital to the survival of democracy.

“We owe it to our shareholders to ensure that we’re investing in truth,” Paskalis argues.

Paskalis believes that the erosion of truth in today’s society has led to a deficit in civil discourse and a lack of understanding of what is truly true.

“We need to leave the world as good a place as we found it. Right now, we’re in a deficit – and a lot of it has to do with advertisers not fulfilling their obligation to support quality news journalism.”

You’re watching coverage of the Global Leadership Summit on Data & Measurement at Cannes Lions 2023, presented by Comscore, LiveRamp & LoopMe. For more videos from Beet.TV’s Cannes Lions 2023 coverage, please visit this page.