Angie's List discontinues 'O'Reilly Factor' advertising

April 7, 2017

Indianapolis-based Angie's List Inc., which drew national headlines earlier this week for its decision to continue advertising on Bill O’Reilly’s popular Fox News show, confirmed Friday evening that it has reversed course and pulled out of the show.

"We are no longer advertising with the program," company spokeswoman Cheryl Reed told IBJ.

At least 20 companies this week announced they were discontinuing advertising on O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" after a report in The New York Times last weekend that O’Reilly and his employer paid five women $13 million to settle harassment or other allegations of inappropriate conduct by Fox’s top star. 

Thje list of firms pulling out included a range of major companies, from Eli Lilly and Co. to Allstate. But Angie's List previously had said it would remain with the show.

“We do not have plans to change our ad buy,” the company had said in a statement. “The advertising strategy we have long used at Angie’s List is meant to reach as many people as possible with news that our service exists and is available to them. We place ads across a wide spectrum of venues intending to reach as many viewers/listeners/readers as possible without taking a position on the viewpoints of the venues themselves.

“Just as we trust members to make their own hiring decisions,” the statement continued, “we trust them to make their own media consumption decisions.”

The stance created pushback on social media, with some members of the service saying they would not renew.

"Advertisers are very risk averse,” said Larry Chiagouris, a Pace University marketing professor. “When advertisers see the possibility of scandal, they take the easy way out—which can be spun as the ‘high road.’ It’s easy for them to move their money somewhere else.”

Fox News has said that advertisers who pulled their ads would be directed to the network’s other programs—so that probably means they’ll just move to other shows like “Hannity,” or “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

That makes their move “less impactful” to Fox than if an advertiser moved all of its ad dollars to rival network MSNBC, for example, Chiagouris said.

“There are only downsides for an advertiser connected with someone who is facing these sorts of charges,” added Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting. “There’s no upside and there are plenty of places put ads. It’s a buyer’s market.”

So far the flap hasn’t reached the proportions of Glenn Beck, the conservative political commentator who hosted a show on Fox News until he was dropped in 2011 after his increasingly strident stances made him unattractive to advertisers.

O’Reilly, by contrast, is Fox News’ top revenue producer, according to research firm Kantar Media, bringing in over $178 million in ad dollars in 2015 and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016.

Chiagouris predicts that while a bevy of advertisers are dropping out of the show, they’ll just be replaced by other advertisers who can negotiate for a better ad deal.

“For an interim period, maybe as much as a year, that show will not generate as much in the way of profits for Fox as it did before,” he said. “But it will gradually come back to where it was before because he is so popular”— as long as there are no other scandalous developments, he said.

Reed had said earlier this week that Angie's List's contract with Fox didn't specify which Fox program its ads will air on, but the company had no plans to change its ad buy.


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