Top US Advertisers Spending $142 Billion on Bad Language

Evelyn Wolf
2 min read
US Advertising - plain language
89% of Top US Advertisers as listed by ‘Advertising Age’ fail to use clear, plain language on their websites.

Baltimore, MD, April 13, 2017 – VisibleThread, today announced findings from its website clarity review of the top spending US advertisers, as listed by ‘Advertising Age’. As part of the company’s ongoing research into use of clear language, VisibleThread measured the largest spending US national advertisers.

The advertisers with the overall best scores were: Dish Network, Clorox, Mattel, Expedia and Home Depot. To view the full list of advertisers, including leaders and losers in each category, view the full report here.

The analysis measured up to 300 pages on each website, across these dimensions:

  • Readability: How readable is the content?
  • Passive Language: Active Language communicates clearly. What proportion of sentences are passive?
  • Long Sentences: What proportion of all sentences are too long?
  • Word Complexity Density: Density rating is the proportion of complex words relative to total word count

Why is this report relevant?

Advertising is the communication vehicle that connects consumers to products and services. One of the most common and enduring forms is through the written word. Well-written, memorable copy separates one company from the rest of the pack in the competitive world of business. Plain, easy to understand written communication is one of the easiest ways to maintain and grow a customer base and brand loyalty.

Each year, Advertising Age publishes a list of the Top 200 National Advertisers, based on levels of advertising spend. In the 2016 report, an estimated $142.5 billion was spent by this group on advertising.

A large percentage of advertising spend is designed to drive traffic to company websites that are poorly written. Increasingly, the point-of-sale is through a company’s website. Failure to use clear language that is readable will reduce potential lead capture, conversion and sales.

“Unlike the federal government, where there is a legal benchmark standard for plain language usage, how a company chooses to communicate is independent and subjective. Marketing teams should recognize that using clear, plain language translates into a return on investment”, said Fergal McGovern, CEO, VisibleThread.

Download the full report here:


About VisibleThread

VisibleThread’s solutions help organizations test & audit their written content for risk and content quality, with dramatically less cost. Customers include; General Dynamics, Intel, Accenture and Fannie Mae. Our software instantly finds brand compliance, poor readability and language risk issues within documents and entire websites. Customers produce better quality, more engaging content. Unlike consumer-grade analysis tools, VisibleThread processes hundreds of documents and web pages in minutes. Marketing, Sales and Risk/Contracts Teams in leading global organizations use VisibleThread.


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