A number of CEOs have asked me what they can do to help improve the abysmal digital news ecosystem, which these days is often populated with fake, misleading, overly opinionated and poorly reported stories. My answer: Pay attention to where your ads are running. Trash news often survives only because someone is willing to advertise against it.
Big brands know this, of course. Many have tried to address the problem by creating whitelists and using keyword-based solutions, keeping their digital advertisements away from stories about ‘controversial’ subjects, including ‘Trump,’ ‘Biden,’ or even ‘immigration’ and ‘LGBTQ.’ That has the unintended effect of penalizing legitimate news organizations writing about important news topics.
Now, two giants of the news business—former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz and American Lawyer founder Steven Brill—are giving them an alternative. They founded a company called NewsGuard in 2018 to rate news sites that are doing reliable journalism, and those that aren’t. Earlier this year, they started offering a solution to advertisers that will let them place their ads only on the good, and not on the bad.
This morning, NewsGuard is releasing a study it did in partnership with marketer IPG that suggests the effectiveness of their solution. By using NewsGuard instead of traditional ad filters, IPG helped advertisers achieve substantially improved performance on their advertising spend. The cost per view was lower, and the clickthrough rate was higher. You can read the full study here, but the bottom line is this: by advertising on real news sites, advertisers can achieve better performance and also help support real news in the process.
“The single greatest cause of misinformation on the Internet are companies unintentionally funding it,” Crovitz told me. He and Brill say the biggest beneficiaries of their new approach will be legitimate local news organizations, which have been starved for funding in recent years.
Other news below. And check out this piece by EverFi CEO Tom Davidson about the “missing layer of education” needed to prepare workers for the technology-transformed future.
AT&T and Discovery
AT&T will reportedly spin off and merge its media business with Discovery, in a "Reverse Morris Trust" transaction that's designed to be tax-free. The combined operation would supposedly be a stronger competitor to the likes of Netflix and Disney. Fortune
Indonesia's Gojek (ride-hailing and payments) and PT Tokopedia (e-commerce) are merging to form the country's biggest Internet company, with the backing of shareholders such as Google and Alibaba. The combined operation, GoTo, will compete with other super-apps such as Grab. Fortune
A couple years ago, Microsoft belatedly conducted an investigation into co-founder Bill Gates's affair with an employee nearly two decades previously. The probe never concluded because Gates stepped down from Microsoft's board before it could be wrapped up. Fortune
The EU, which continues to oppose the idea of vaccine patent waivers as a means to boost production, is instead expected to back proposals that would establish strategic manufacturing hubs in Africa. Europe would put money into the initiative, while also helping to build up regulatory capacity through the establishment of an African Medicines Agency. Financial Times
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Musk vs Bitcoin
Elon Musk has again been denting the value of Bitcoin, this time by suggesting on Twitter that Tesla should maybe divest its stake in the cryptocurrency. The billionaire and his company have in recent days turned against Bitcoin somewhat, over its environmental impact, which somehow came as news to them. Musk's latest tweeting sent the price of one Bitcoin below $43,000 yesterday, though it has recovered a little since. Fortune
CNBC has an interesting piece on the push to build semiconductors in places such as South Korea, the U.S. and the European Union. Forrester research director Glenn O'Donnell: "In the ongoing battle for dominance in the technology field, all nations are jockeying for that all-important designation as the key supplier to the world…South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Taiwan, the EU, and China all covet that gold medal in the Tech Olympics podium." CNBC
A World Health Organization study suggests 745,000 people died in 2016 from overwork. The report is the first global study of its kind, and the WHO is warning that the pandemic may exacerbate the trend. BBC
The Business Roundtable's "stakeholder capitalism" push isn't really so far from Milton Friedman's ideas, writes Vivian Hunt, a senior partner at McKinsey's London office, in this Fortune piece. "Companies do not need to fear stakeholder capitalism: It’s what the best ones already do—and bad ones never will," she writes. "That said, I believe there are strong arguments for all companies to do more—to actively embrace the idea, making it central to strategic decision-making and corporate values." Fortune
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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