How to Bounce Back From Fake News

By Ashlee Dixon, March 30, 2017

Fake news. Sure, it seems harmless. It’s just juicy “clickbait” designed to get consumers to click. Miley Cyrus isn’t pregnant, but when you see an article titled: Miley’s Nightmare, Pregnant and Scared, you can’t help but want to know if it’s true.

But what if it wasn’t Miley being effected? What if your company’s brand safety is on the line? Do you care now? 

“Lately society’s tolerance on “fake news” has hit its breaking point,” says eZanga CEO Rich Kahn. Fake news is more than the exaggerated truth and gossip lurking in the tabloids that we consume on a daily basis. It’s affecting companies, with repercussions that aren’t only damaging to reputations but are costly, too.

Once you’re affected by fake news, you need to know how to bounce back. Here are four ways to help you get your groove back.

1. Know Where Fake News Comes From

You know the old saying “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”? Well, that’s applicable here, too. Knowing where fake news is originating from, will help in the fight.  

Many of these fake news articles are being created by Macedonian teenagers. They’re producing clickbait headlines that exaggerate the story or are flat out false. They’re even illegally using celebrity names to promote products as well.  

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Their goal is to make money from advertisers using automated ad placements (e.g. programmatic advertising).

Related Post: 4 Programmatic Platforms That’ll Ease Your Brand Safety Fears

Most agencies don’t care where your ad is placed, so there’s a good chance your ad may have been inadvertently placed on fake news sites, which can harm your brand safety, make you appear less reputable, and waste your advertising dollars.  

Knowing who your agency, and where your traffic is coming from, will also help you avoid placement on those fake news sites.

2. Have a Crisis Communication Plan

Whether your company gets wrapped up in a fake news article, or is in the same industry that’s affected, it’s important to have a crisis communication plan in place. The plan needs to consist of a three-pronged approach:

1. Prepare for Worst Case Scenario. Planning ahead before you’re under the pressure of a real crisis will help with your reaction. Consider best and worst case scenarios, and how your audience will respond to each.

Related Post: Crisis Communication 101: 4 Tips We Can Learn from Facebook

2. Beat the Media to the Punch. Today’s media has a tendency to report first, fact-check later. Even if the media admits they ran with an erroneous story; it’s too late, the damage is done. So, if you have even an inkling something false is about to break, beat the media to the punch and address the issue.

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At least when they incorrectly share a fake news story, your facts will already be out there, making the audience question the validity of the fake news.

3. Use Social to Help Control the Narrative. When news breaks, your audience will go to social media to get answers. Give them the correct information via your company’s social media accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook).

3. Protect Your Brand Safety

When you’ve entrusted your brand to a programmatic party, and you get burned, you can’t help but want to point fingers. But unfortunately, you can’t rely on automated advertising tools to protect your brand. Don’t waste your time playing the blame game. It’s up to you to be proactive and protect your brand safety.  

Related Post: How to Knock Ad Fraud out of the Programmatic Funnel


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Here are some ways to mitigate fake news and fraudsters:

  • Third-Party Filters. Using a third-party filter can help you shut down these fraudsters who are inevitably stealing your ad dollars.
  • Blacklisting Keywords. You can place common keywords used in fake news on a blacklist in order to keep your ads from popping up on those sites using them. As long as you stay up-to-date with the keywords in trending fake news, this should help wonders.
  • Blacklisting URLs. If you know for a fact that a site is using clickbait fake news, put the entire URL on a blacklist and you’ll have one site less to worry about.

4. Get Back out There

Losing your ad dollars and some of your most loyal customers hurts. But don’t let that stop you. Get back out there!  

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Your reputation might have taken a hit, but that should add fuel to your motivational fire. Now you’ve got the tools and knowledge to kick fake news in the butt, and show your consumers you’re taking the necessary steps to bounce back.  

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Ashlee Dixon

Ashlee Dixon

Ashlee is the former Content Writer and Digital Specialist for eZanga and its ad fraud management platform, Anura. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. On weekends, you can usually find her curled up next to her cat and watching Netflix with a glass of wine in hand. More Articles by Ashlee Dixon