Ad Tech

Audiences say advertisers shouldn’t avoid hard news, like war or Covid

46% said “all high-quality journalism should be appropriate for ads,” according to a recent survey.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Turns out, audiences aren’t necessarily thinking about advertisers when they’re consuming news about geopolitical crises like the war in Ukraine. That’s according to a survey published by the Trustworthy Accountability Group and the Brand Safety Institute, both industry organizations designed to promote the concept of “brand safety,” which is the idea that a brand’s reputation could be impacted by the content it appears alongside.

  • For example, that means an airline probably wouldn’t want to run an ad alongside coverage of a plane crash.

That can get more complicated with coverage of more complex or ongoing events, like violent crime or war. Some key results of the survey:

  • 46% said that “all high-quality journalism should be appropriate for ads” without content-specific restrictions
  • 18.6% said news about the war in Ukraine shouldn’t be supported by advertising revenue
  • 18.7% said the same for news about the Covid-19 pandemic

That last point is especially relevant considering that brand-safety guidelines were largely responsible for many publishers’ being unable to monetize stories about Covid-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.

Safety at the speed of ads: At the digital level, brand safety is often automated by tools created by companies like Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify. Those same companies have since been accused of allegedly scraping publishers’ sites and selling that data.

Why is this important? Many, if not most, news organizations are ad-supported businesses. If advertisers are uncomfortable with specific news coverage, then they might pull their ads, taking revenue away from a news publisher at a time when that coverage might be more important for audiences.—RB

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