NewsGuard Offers Targeted Services, Free Audits to Help Brands Meet New GARM Misinformation Standards

New global standards from advertising industry group and European Commission compel brands and ad tech companies to stop $2.6 billion in advertising on misinformation

(New York — June 30, 2022) Two global trade and regulatory bodies have just unveiled new standards compelling advertisers and ad tech companies to take steps to avoid supporting publishers of misinformation with their advertising.

On June 21, 2022, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), an initiative created by the World Federation of Advertisers to promote responsible advertising practices, announced for the first time that it had added “misinformation” to the list of online harms it deems inappropriate for advertising support. GARM’s previous standards, relating to issues such as pornography and violence, have been widely adopted by the industry.

GARM’s addition came one week after the European Commission updated its Code of Practice on Disinformation, which outlines commitments technology companies should make to reduce the impact of disinformation across their platforms. The European Union’s revised Code contains new standards for how companies should reduce the harm of disinformation through their advertising practices.

With the news of this mounting focus on the advertising industry’s responsibility to address misinformation, NewsGuard is announcing that it will offer a free compliance assessment for brands, ad agencies, DSPs, SSPs, and other ad tech companies looking to assess whether or not their existing practices meet these new standards — and what steps they can take to be sure to comply, including which of NewsGuard’s custom brand safety data products will best fit their needs.

NewsGuard, the leading provider of misinformation protections for the advertising industry, already helps top SSPs, DSPs, agencies, and brands comply with these standards through its BrandGuard protections for responsible advertising on news. (NewsGuard is the only provider of news source credibility ratings that has signed on to – and committed to comply with – all of the requirements of the European Commission’s new Code of Practice on Disinformation related to preventing advertiser-financing of misinformation by providing such assessments.)

NewsGuard’s detailed, human-curated ratings for news and information sources enable advertisers to place ads consistent with their standards for targeting credible news sites—and to avoid placing ads on misinformation and unreliable news sources. Advertisers have multiple options when using NewsGuard’s “Exclusion Lists” and “Inclusion Lists” to manage risk. For example, BrandGuard’s constantly updated Exclusion Lists currently include hundreds of websites publishing Russian disinformation about its invasion of Ukraine, while its special Inclusion Lists of human-curated high-quality news sites serving Black, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBTQ+ communities.

In order to accelerate compliance with the new requirements, NewsGuard is making available a free assessment, available until September 1, to brands, ad agencies and ad-tech companies. This assessment includes an analysis of the list of publishers (websites, news apps, YouTube channels, etc.) a brand or platform advertises with and provides a summary of how well or poorly the advertising meets the new GARM and European Commission guidelines, and what changes can be made to ensure compliance with the new standards.

Request a free assessment here.

“We applaud GARM and the European Commission for taking this critical action to address the $2.6 billion industry of ad-supported misinformation,” said Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard co-CEO. “These moves will prevent peddlers of hoaxes from raking in billions — while ensuring that top brands don’t inadvertently have their ads wind up on websites spouting falsehoods about COVID-19, elections, and more.” NewsGuard and Comscore have estimated that advertisers spend $2.6 billion a year on misinformation sites due to the nature of programmatic advertising, where advertisers do not know where their ads appear unless they take steps to ensure responsible advertising on news.

“These new standards are only the beginning,” added Steven Brill, NewsGuard co-CEO. “As policymakers continue to learn of the extent and impact of the monetization of misinformation online, the enactment of further regulations on this topic is all but inevitable.”


GARM Framework now includes misinformation

The GARM Brand Safety Floor + Suitability Framework was created in 2020 to help brands, agencies, and platforms uphold responsible advertising practices while avoiding support for harmful content. The framework provides standard definitions for categories of problematic content including profanity, sexual content, terrorism, and spam, which are used across the advertising industry as guidelines for dealing with monetization of content spanning these topics.

Last week, GARM updated the Framework to include for the first time “misinformation” as a category of content that it calls “not appropriate for any advertising support.” In its definition, GARM describes misinformation as “the presence of verifiably false or willfully misleading content that is directly connected to user or societal harm.”

This new definition will apply to the 122 advertisers, industry associations, ad agencies, and ad platforms that have agreed to adopt solutions to meet GARM’s commitments as members of the alliance.


European Commission lists new standards for demonetizing disinformation

The European Union published its strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation on June 16, 2022, including new steps to demonetize disinformation. The revised code, which builds on the original 2018 European Code of Practice on Disinformation, sets commitments and measures for how major technology and advertising companies can counter online disinformation.

For example, one of the new commitments stipulates that companies “participating in ad placements” will “commit to defund the dissemination of Disinformation” by improving “the policies and systems which determine the eligibility of content to be monetised, the controls for monetisation and ad placement, and the data to report on the accuracy and effectiveness of controls and services around ad placements.”

Another commitment in the Code encourages advertising companies to work with source-rating organizations like NewsGuard: “Relevant signatories will develop tools, methods, or partnerships, which may include reference to independent information sources both public and proprietary (for instance partnerships with fact-checking or source rating organisations, or services providing indicators of trustworthiness, or proprietary methods developed internally) to identify content and sources as distributing harmful Disinformation, to identify and take action on ads and promoted content that violate advertising policies regarding Disinformation.”

NewsGuard became a signatory to the new Code, along with companies including Microsoft, Meta (Facebook), Google, Twitter, TikTok, and the World Federation of Advertisers (which operates GARM).


NewsGuard uniquely positioned to help advertisers meet new commitments

NewsGuard, recognized as MediaPost’s 2022 advertising “Supplier of the Year,” provides the only human-generated, constantly updated solution to help advertisers, agencies, and ad-tech companies advertise on credible news sites and avoid misinformation sources — all while meeting the new standards outlined by GARM and the European Union.

NewsGuard’s multiple customizable products and services enable advertisers to meet whatever standard of GARM’s new misinformation policy they wish to achieve. For example, companies seeking to avoid advertising on any source that publishes “verifiably false or willfully misleading content that is directly connected to user or societal harm” can use NewsGuard’s exclusion list of websites, apps, and social media channels that “repeatedly publish false content” on topics including the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, elections, abortion, and vaccines.

Likewise, NewsGuard is equipped to help companies comply with whichever standards they choose to enforce among the European Commission’s new commitments related to responsible advertising practices — including the commitment that requires providers that rate sources to “provide reasonable information on the criteria under which websites are rated, make public the assessment of the relevant criteria relating to Disinformation, operate in an apolitical manner and give publishers the right to reply before ratings are published.”

Only by using NewsGuard can brands and those serving them by placing programmatic advertising fully comply with the Code’s expectations, including the requirements that all credibility ratings be transparent and that publishers be given an opportunity to comment before any negative assessment is made with regard to their journalistic practices.

NewsGuard’s human-curated, constantly updated lists were designed explicitly to meet those bedrock requirements.

However, in addition to being far less reliable, artificial intelligence tools, sporadically updated internal “exclusion” or “inclusion” lists, or “keyword block lists” cannot, by definition, comply with the Code’s requirements related to transparency or to a publisher’s right to be heard

NewsGuard deploys a team of journalists to review thousands of news and information sites, covering 95% of online engagement in each market, to identify trustworthy news sites while flagging untrustworthy domains that spread dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Brands can use NewsGuard’s data to craft custom news inclusion or exclusion lists based on their standards. Advertisers can use NewsGuard’s more than 30 data and metadata points to create filters for different categories of content, such as health misinformation, anti-vaccine hoaxes, political conspiracy theories, falsehoods about the war in Ukraine, and other brand-unsafe or brand-unsuitable content.

To learn more about NewsGuard’s solution for advertisers and to receive a free assessment of your company’s compliance with the new GARM and European Commission standards, click here.


About NewsGuard

Launched in March 2018 by media entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites. NewsGuard rates all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement across the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. NewsGuard products include NewsGuard, HealthGuard, and BrandGuard, which helps marketers concerned about their brand safety, and the Misinformation Fingerprints catalog of top hoaxes.

NewsGuard’s ratings are conducted by trained journalists using nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice, including whether a news source repeatedly publishes false content, whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors, and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. Based on the criteria, each source receives an overall rating, a trust score of 0-100, a score on each of the nine criteria, and a detailed “Nutrition Label” explaining the rating and providing examples of the site’s editorial practices. Advertisers, advertising agencies and advertising tech companies license NewsGuard’s ratings to direct their programmatic advertising toward legitimate journalism and avoid misinformation.

For more information, including how to download the browser extension and review the ratings process, visit newsguardtech.com.

NewsGuard Contacts

  • Steven Brill, Co-CEO, steven.brill@newsguardtech.com
  • Gordon Crovitz, Co-CEO, gordon.crovitz@newsguardtech.com