AdAlert helps defund hostile propaganda channels

AdAlert in Estonian, Russian, Latvian and Lithuanian language.

AdAlert is a new initiative from Propastop, which is run by volunteers at the Estonian Defence League (Kaitseliit) to monitor and fact check propaganda. The aim of AdAlert is to prevent advertising funds from Estonian, Baltic, and Western companies from reaching hostile propaganda channels.

Media platforms that specialise in misinformation to sow division, encourage hatred, and fuel the war on Ukraine, such as Russia’s state media channels, also benefit from advertising by companies in the countries they are targeting. AdAlert aims to stop that by educating the public – in Estonian, Russian, and English – about which companies help fund those channels and which companies choose to behave responsibly. Consumers can then choose more wisely about which companies to give their business to.

Propastop has already been publishing reports of this nature since 2017, which has had a positive effect in reducing the problem. The onset of Putin’s full scale war in Ukraine prompted us to review this more intensely, but now it’s time to step it up a gear with this dedicated campaign.

The problem is serious
Propaganda channels earn a tiny amount of revenue from each visitor, but this can add up to millions of euros from advertising revenues from western companies. In the Baltic states alone, it’s estimated that the Kremlin’s propaganda channels have earned half a million euros from local visitors per year. While efforts to reduce the reach of propaganda channels has been fairly successful, as has pressure on Western companies to withdraw from the Russian market, there has been no dedicated awareness-raising campaign of this nature launched before in Estonia or the wider Baltic nations, unlike elsewhere in  the world. The problem is complicated by the fact that companies often don’t have a clear overview of how their advertising is distributed through complex distribution arrangements and may not always know the nature of the channels involved.

The solution is simple
In addition to raising awareness of the problem, the AdAlert campaign also offers solutions. We’ve put together a handy guide to help any business prevent their advertising budgets ending up in the coffers of hostile propaganda networks.

We recognise responsible companies
As part of the campaign, we have a variety of ways to highlight companies that are able to declare that their adverts do not run on hostile propaganda channels. That includes a graphic package offered to those companies that they can use in their own (responsible) marketing.

We label irresponsible companies
AdAlert will regularly monitor its list of “blacklisted” propaganda websites to see which companies are continuing to advertise on them so that we can highlight their behaviour. We will primarily focus on Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian companies in the Baltic nations, but also other Western businesses that should know better.

All Propastop articles related to the campaign can be found by searching for #adalert as the topic in our own online publication.

For more information about the campaign, you can email [email protected]