Two leading news organizations are calling on ad agencies to stop using technology that automatically bars ads from appearing alongside coronavirus news stories.
“News organizations are working tirelessly to provide reliable and trustworthy information to their communities,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance, which joined with Digital Content Next, in urging advertisers to end the practice. “Keyword blocking serves to punish publishers for this very same coverage with potentially catastrophic effects.”
Ad agencies traditionally used blacklisted words because they don’t want their ads running adjacent to copy that it thinks consumers would find upsetting.
Many ad agencies have paused their ad work in the wake of the crisis to recalibrate their ad messages. But industry sources say that among brands that are still advertising there is a blacklist affecting about one-third of ads from appearing adjacent to COVID-19 news.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau said that digital sites have seen ads plunge by 33 percent due to the pandemic. And the problem is acute for digital news and sites connected to newspapers, which have been devoted close to half their news coverage in recent weeks related to the global pandemic, which has killed more than 6,500 people in the US and sickened more than a million worldwide.
“We risk a very real information disaster if we do not ensure the continued sustainability of high-quality journalism at this critical juncture,” warned Chavern. “This is a global emergency and the public needs access to information that helps them protect their families, plan for their futures and learn about public health efforts to combat this pandemic.”
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