Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19: News Sites Ask Ad Industry 'Get Over It'

Even as traffic to news websites has surged of late because of the constant demand for updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, publishers are downsizing their staff and cutting pay due to slumping ad revenue.

CNBC reports one problem the sites are facing is that advertisers are working with ad-tech companies that, in trying to prevent those brands from appearing on particular sites or near certain topics, have prevented promotions from running alongside coronavirus-related content. With the crisis having become the dominant global story, one that’s poised to continue for at least the coming months, parts of the news industry face an existential threat if advertisers continue to stay away.

Publishers want the rampant blocking on news to stop.

Jason Kint
Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, the trade body representing CNBC, Bloomberg, The New York Times and other publications, wrote an open letter this week urging certain advertising technology companies including Integral Ad Sciences and DoubleVerify to exempt “premium, trusted media properties” from brand safety filters around COVID-19 and related terms.

Now that the virus has touched virtually every facet of society, ad industry experts argue, there should be no stigma for running ads on stories tied to the pandemic.

Certain types of ads are still likely to be considered inappropriate. For example, a cruise company wouldn’t want to promote deals near a news story about an outbreak on a ship. But stories about everyday life amid the pandemic, if the messaging is respectful, should largely be considered safe for brands.

Avid readers of online news from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal have become familiar in recent weeks with blocked ads. Buzzfeed reported this week that one unnamed brand, which typically spends $3 million advertising its products on news and technology sites, saw its ad blocked more than 35 million times across 100 news sites this month.

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