Brands are moving away from advertising that appears next to content containing controversy, terrorism and illegal behavior, and toward lifestyle-related content promoting optimism and positive thoughts -- the type of content that makes consumers feel good.
eMarketer principal analyst Nicole Perrin in a podcast wonders whether these brands will fail to reach consumers this way. “Aside for the fact that those ads wouldn’t reach me, … I would like brands to support quality journalism,” she said.
Most recently, marketers have distanced their brands from hard news, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While it’s logical to think brands don’t want to appear supportive of topics such as Nazism, Perrin questions whether it’s “wrong” for brands to avoid anything related to news, political news and events occurring in the real world.
In July, for example, more than 1,000 advertisers blocked the word “shooting,” while 314 advertisers blocked the word "ISIS," 500 advertisers blocked “Trump,” and 83 blocked “Obama,” according to Integral Ad Science (IAS).
The most-blocked words last month were shooting, dead, explosion, death, bomb, murder, rape, kill, gun, terror, ISIS, suicide, terrorist, attack, killed, sex, bombing, Nazi, accident, and porn, according to IAS.
While brands have tried to stay away from political messages, the words "Tump" and "Obama" didn't make it on to the list of the top 100 IAS words for July.
The responsibility for making these types of decisions to block keywords falls on the shoulders of the Brand Safety Officer, according to a spokesperson for the IAS. This person makes the decision on the type of content the brand wants to appear by. “The more words you block, you’re limiting your scale of the people you can reach,” she said. “It’s helping advertisers figure out their brand suitability.”
The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Brand Safety Institute (BSI) released findings from a survey earlier this month, which found that 90% of the 1,017 respondents said it was very or somewhat important for advertisers to make sure their ads don't appear near dangerous, offensive, or inappropriate content. The top items, at 70%, were illegal activity, hate speech, pornography and violence. Political controversy sank down the scale to 41%.