The notion of a filter bubble – that the news and information we consume on social media is a reflection of our desires – is fairly established.
But the prevalence of filter bubbles will also have an impact, albeit lesser known, in the marketing world.
We recently partnered with Newsworks, the marketing body that represents UK national newspapers, to understand how brands and media owners should navigate a digital information environment in which search and social algorithms create artificial information filter bubbles around individuals.
The results were interesting for advertisers, electioneers and news publishers alike. It found most consumers are not aware that their access to online information is being limited by filter bubbles. Some 82 per cent of the nation have never heard of the term “filter bubble”; six out of 10 are unaware that the news they see on Facebook is matched to their profiles, and two in three do not know that Google search results are personalised.
Consumers have a strong desire to discover fresh ideas, news or useful information, with 63 per cent of the nation wanting more serendipitous online content from brands. A further 62 per cent also agreed that discovering new ideas and things that challenge their thinking are important.
The nation’s news consumption is drawn from a healthy mix of sources. While 44 per cent said that they consumed news presented by Facebook, 63 per cent use TV news programmes, 77 per cent consume print or digital news brands. Consumers would prefer to not have a news service filtered by an algorithm and most would prefer to discover new information and ideas. While social media is an important part in people’s news diets, proven news brands are more likely to be their first choice for news information.
Despite the amount of online targeting, consumers feel that almost two thirds of the ads they see are random or not relevant. People are most likely to feel “annoyed”, “irritated” and “invaded” as a result. Media planners, brands and ad companies need far more subtle and sophisticated approaches to digital advertising, combining consumer-centric planning and improved data targeting and re-targeting.
Popping filter bubbles in a sophisticated way is a huge opportunity for advertisers and will ultimately lead to delivering content consumers want, and will enable the nation to discover more ideas, more brands and more news.