Commentary

Why Advertisers Shouldn't Dismiss COVID-19 News

Publishers fret they are losing revenue from their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic when media buyers block online ads from appearing next to those stories. Yet much of that content can be considered brand-safe, according to a study that suggests news publishers are being unfairly punished for keeping readers informed about the crisis.

In an average day, about 20% of publisher web pages mention the coronavirus or an associated term, and 42% of those can be considered brand-safe, according to ad targeting firm Peer39. By brand-safe, the stories don't mention grim topics like the mounting death toll or shortages in medical supplies.

Instead, those articles may be about innocuous topics, such as "fun activities for parents and kids in quarantine" or "how to look better in video chats" that mention the coronavirus only peripherally. Unfortunately, those stories would be blocked.

For news publishers specifically, about 53% of web pages mention the coronavirus, but 40% of the content currently being blocked by keywords is safe. Overall, 68% of news content on any given day is safe and free from negative coronavirus association, according to Peer39.

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The information can be useful for the programmatic sales teams at publishers, especially news outlets whose work deserves financial support amid the chronic problem of misinformation about the pandemic.

Consumers consider news publishers to be among the most trustworthy sources of information about the pandemic, according to Pew Research Center.

Unfortunately, about half of Americans said they have seen completely made-up news about the health crisis, raising the risk they don't take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from a possibly deadly infection.

The most common complaint about the made-up news centered on the dangers of COVID-19. Some 41% of people who encountered the fake news said information either downplayed or exaggerated the risks posed by the coronavirus. Another 30% said details about the virus seemed to be made up, including its origin or possible cures.

Americans need reliable information about the pandemic, and it's important for advertisers to support the efforts of publishers providing independent reporting.

1 comment about "Why Advertisers Shouldn't Dismiss COVID-19 News".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, April 17, 2020 at 8:49 a.m.

    Most of us are trying to pay attention to ongoing updates, and increasingly realize there is a lot of dubious material being written, loads of clickbait. This should be a good time for trustworthy brands to put out a message. It should get noticed.

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