Friday, April 3, 2020

Ad Agencies Avoid Virus Coverage

While newspaper sites and digital publishers have been reporting massive surges in traffic tied to coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, industry sources say ad agencies are often blocking their programmatic ads from appearing next to any stories about the virus, The NY Post reports.

Ad revenue was down 33 percent for digital publishers and 39 percent for legacy publishers, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and at least part of the problem is advertisers wanting to avoid all content tied to the global pandemic.

Blacklisted words aren’t responsible for the total collapse, but they have played a role.

Integral Ad Science said that as the crisis exploded in March, “coronavirus” had overtaken “Trump” as the most-blocked keyword for advertisers.

Even softer lifestyle sites mentioning coronavirus are getting hit by the all-encompassing ad blocking.

“It’s our job as an ad agency to do that due diligence,” Amanda Martin, vice president of enterprise partnerships at digital marketing service company Goodway Group, said in an interview with Digiday.

People are spending more time streaming video as the novel coronavirus forces them to stay indoors. Advertisers, however, aren’t following the same trajectory.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports TV streaming time in the U.S. went up 12% last week compared with the previous week, according to video technology company Wurl Inc., which says it tracks viewing habits of about 5 million viewers on internet-connected TV sets. Inc. and Walt Disney Co. ’s Hulu have seen streaming go up during the crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. Other streaming video providers including AT&T Inc.’s HBO and Vizio Inc. have reported increased viewing on their streaming services as well.

But even as viewing grows, advertiser demand is falling amid the sudden halt to much economic activity.

Falling ad demand just as viewership jumps is a frustrating development for ad sellers in streaming TV, where marketers were slow to follow audiences even before the pandemic. Streaming viewers were accustomed to seeing the same ads repeat much more than they would on traditional TV, or even blank screens where ads should go, before the coronavirus sequestered them at home.

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