India is the world's largest and most diverse democracy, and a part of the country’s success lies in the tradition of people's participation in governance via elections. This season, we have elections in Karnataka, which are politically significant region for our political giants. And there is no surprise that multiple brands are keeping a keen eye on placing their ads in such a hyperactive environment and making a business out of it – primarily driven by digital ad spending, which is on the rise like never before.
However, while this scenario presents a lot of opportunities for advertisers to secure the perfect spot and promotion of their brands, what they need to understand is that the same situation also raises concerns for brands as placements of their ads can go alongside content that might include hate speech and inflammatory remarks.
During certain election campaigns in other markets such as the US, we have observed a rise in incendiary content and hate speech and the same has been observed in India. In 2022, a DV Election Task Force was set up to help monitor the election and political content globally, and in real-time. We classify content promoting specious and incendiary or racially biased/motivated claims under the Inflammatory Politics and News (IPN) category and Hate Speech & Cyberbullying categories.
A recent analysis of category traffic trends in India showed surges in IPN and Hate Speech rates occurring in 2022. June 1 to July 14, 2022, was a particularly turbulent period of time, as the average IPN rate was two times higher than the year-to-date average rate. This peaked to as much as 8.6 times the year-to-date average IPN rate on June 27. Interestingly, these dates coincide with the period of the Maharashtra political crisis. The peak HRHS (High-Risk Hate Speech) rate was 11 times higher than the YTD Average HRHS rate on February 2, 2022. Again, during this time, elections were taking place in 5 major states and they were Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa. All of this shows that India's political temperature is too hot to handle.
Advertising alongside such controversial and politically-charged content can have a real and lasting impact on customer thoughts and purchase behaviours. According to DoubleVerify's recently released consumer study, The Four Fundamental Shifts in Advertising and Media, 63% of Indian consumers would be less likely to buy or use a brand if they saw it advertised next to content that they determined to be misinformation or disinformation.
It is imperative for advertisers to be aware of and protect their brands across emerging channels – especially during elections. This is where ad tech solutions come into play, which empowers advertisers with tools and practices that are best to expand their reach and run a high-performing campaign even during elections. Thus, understanding the complexity of the online information ecosystem is challenging for many advertisers, and we are committed to ensuring our brands can effectively manage their brand safety and suitability concerns while still being able to support trusted publishers, news, and information.