Much like the politically focused #fakenews that’s drawn headlines in the lead-up to the 2020 election, brand-based misinformation can come from anyone with a decent internet connection and a strong opinion. And while the search-engine software outfit Yext can’t stem the tide of internet wiseguys completely, it can keep those voices a little quieter.
The company today debuted its first ad campaign with the help of agency TBWAChiatDay New York, targeting digital marketers in major U.S. cities like New York and Chicago.
“The Man Without the Answers” as the campaign’s called, features exactly that. The ads follow internet user Todd Munion as he doles out well intentioned but consistently flawed expertise on everything from dry eyes (over “1.1 billion Americans” suffer from it, he says), to literature (Kafka’s first name was apparently “Francis Ford”), to golf (the key is apparently “following the club with your head”).
To coincide with the rollout of its first campaign, Yext is also debuting “Answers,” a standalone search engine that plugs directly into any brand’s website to let users source intel directly from the company.
While the spots might be light-hearted, this kind of brand reputation risk is anything but, according to Yext CEO Howard Lerman. “In search, it’s all about deception, rather than misinformation,” he said, adding that the opinions of internet denizens like Munion are the least of a brand’s worries, when there are much larger bad actors at play.
“It’s mainly about bloggers and content farms trying to capture SEO on long-tail keywords,” he explained. The result is a sea of “bullshit articles that mention a particular topic, but are completely made up.”
Historically, the answers that crop up across these properties is misleading at best, and flat-out wrong at worst. For consumers looking for information about managing their healthcare or finances, 77% of their intel will be from unverified sources, per Yext’s own research. Looking at information about retail brands, that number bumps up to 86%.
Yext’s philosophy, per Lerman, is that brands should “take back their truth.” The company’s flagship offering integrates into search platforms across the web, giving businesses the ability to keep tabs on the answers people get when asking about their brand anywhere online, including via Google, Bing, Quora and Yahoo Answers.