Of the 2.8 million online pages containing COVID-19 related keywords across GumGum’s publisher network, 62% were considered brand safe, according to a study by the artificial intelligence company and its content classification and brand safety platform, Verity.
GumGum, which specializes in solutions for advertising and media, released the data to show a majority of online content containing COVID-19 keywords (like “covid," “covid19," “covid-19," “covid 19," “coronavirus," “corona virus," “pandemic," or “quarantine”) were safe for advertisers.
“All the concerns raised lately about coronavirus keyword blocking hurting publishers are valid,” stated GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder. “But this data shows that keyword-based brand safety is also failing brands."
He added: "It’s effectively freezing advertisers out of a huge volume of safe trending content, limiting their reach at a time when it should actually be expanding, as more people than ever are consuming online content.”
In two weeks (March 25 to April 6), brands relying on keyword-based systems for brand safety protection missed out on over 1.5 billion impressions across GumGum’s supply, Schraeder noted.
The 10 most “safe” IAB content categories, according to the study, were human resources, personal celebrations and life, business accounting and finance, auto body styles, consumer electronics, home financing, smartphones, personal taxes, fitness and exercise and computer software and apps.
The 10 least safe content categories were mostly related to health. They include heart and cardiovascular diseases, endocrine and metabolic diseases, smoke cessation, cold and flu, lung and respiratory health, blood disorders, crime, genetics, infectious diseases and disasters.
“Coronavirus is touching every facet of society, so it’s hardly surprising that even the most innocuous content references it,” stated GumGum CTO, Ken Weiner.
Weiner added: "Keyword blocking just goes way too far, which is why people are calling for whitelisting of specific websites. The idea that you have to choose between reach and safety is false," Weiner noted. "Our industry needs to wake up to what’s technologically available.”
Other interesting finds from the study: Traffic on desktop is outpacing mobile, as dozens of content categories are trending, according to GumGum.
Traffic is up 36% on desktop versus 19% on mobile. Content categories like exercise and homeschooling are trending on desktop, too.
According to GumGum's website, its publisher partners range from People to Better Homes & Gardens, from the New York Daily News to Variety.