Advertisers are pushing to keep their brands away from ‘fake’ news

At the close of 2016, controversies about fake news won’t quit.

On the heels of Kellogg and other big brands pulling their ads from Breitbart, brands are questioning whether they want to be associated with controversial or extreme political content.

Sources tell CNBC that across the advertising industry agencies are meeting with clients and their ad tech partners, and brands are looking for more control over where their ads are placed.

MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan sees premium digital content companies like The New York Times benefiting from a rise in advertising. The publication has also seen a boost in subscribers in the wake of the election. He also says all of the swirling questions about fake news and questionable content could send advertisers back to traditional TV networks — NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS — both their traditional TV and their digital properties.

WPP’s media investment operation, GroupM, says it’s been focused on brand safety and has been working to “eliminate fraud, cut off support to content pirates, and protect our clients from inappropriate adjacencies.”

“It’s a flight to what you know,” said Kassan.

While Facebook and Google have been blamed for enabling the proliferation of fake news, both have said they’re working to crack down on it. And GroupM says it’s working with them on it. “We will support the work of Google, Facebook, Twitter and others to minimize the possibility of advertising funding the fakers,” GroupM said in a statement.

Of Facebook, Twitter and other digital and social media companies, Sorrell said, “They’re responsible for their content, just like ‘old’ media are. (New media companies) can’t deny that responsibility.”

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