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Intelligence: Reuters’ Tomorrow’s News 2018 survey finds challenges for platforms and advertisers, but good news for publishers

HONG KONG Executives think platforms should do more to combat fake news, are increasingly skeptical of social media and blame brands for adverts placed alongside inappropriate content – but they increasingly see news brands as a source of trusted content, according to a survey published today by Reuters Plus.

The third annual Tomorrow’s News survey, based on a new survey of 1,587 global executives, reveals that 87% of respondents think Google and Facebook should do more to control fake news, while 81% believe that Google and Facebook should be held accountable for content.

The survey – commissioned by the branded content studio of the world’s largest international multimedia news provider – also finds that three out of four executives claim to have seen brands advertising alongside unsavory or objectionable stories or videos, and 77% agree that advertising next to inappropriate content can damage the perception of a brand. Furthermore, brands are held responsible for where adverts are placed: 62% agree that “brands have full control over where their advertising appears”.

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The research – conducted by Synergy Research and Consulting – reveals that executives are growing increasingly sceptical of social media as a source of news: they are less trusting of news shared on social media (24% trust the source of news stories shared compared to 28% last year), share less (38% actively share news vs. 49% in 2017) and are concerned about fake news (85% say fake news has made them doubt news stories shared on social media).

Executives are also keen to burst their “filter bubbles”: 76% say personalization narrows their views and 88% want to see a balance of content they like and dislike.

While the findings of the survey may present challenges for platforms and advertisers, there are encouraging results for news publishers. 80% of the executives surveyed agreed that “a news brand is a mark of quality on a story” and an increasing number believe that their news consumption will continue to grow (66%, up from 50% in 2016).

96% prefer factual and impartial news content. Executives are also more likely to turn to online news brands over social media for “opinions from respected anchors, reporters or journalists” (80% v. 17%) and to “obtain in-depth analysis and opinion of a news story” (88% v. 12%).

Munira Ibrahim, Reuters SVP for Sales and Content Solutions, said; “Advertising agencies and tech companies alike are having to pay more attention to good governance and integrity. Executives are looking for factual and impartial content in a trusted environment and the findings of this research highlight the enduring importance of trusted brands in an era of fake news.”

The full Tomorrow’s News 2018 survey findings can be found here.

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