Is Rising 'Blacklisting' Hurting TV News Networks?

Some call it “blacklisting.” That's when marketers, including TV advertisers, list certain content they don’t want to see next to their TV commercials — coming in or out of ad breaks.

With grim stories of COVID-19, as the U.S. totals nearly 34,000 deaths, this has become an issue for major brand advertisers looking for the right content for their marketing campaigns.

In the past, you might have had news of military casualties due to ongoing wars (Vietnam, Iraq, other places), and TV advertisers that objected to their messages running near it.

In somewhat less traumatic times, when tragic events occur, airlines don't like to run ads near news of passenger jet crashes. And in the case of the events occurring around 9/11, this restriction applied to airlines and other TV advertising categories too.

On the flip side, in recent weeks, we have seen a lot of COVID-19 references in TV ads from marketers, including cars, insurance, and others that run near TV COVID-19 news.



An IAB report noted that while both TV and digital news consumption is up, ad revenues are down.

“News is being disproportionately affected in terms of pausing, cancellations and adjustments, in addition to blacklisting,” stated David Cohen, president of the IAB, who did not go into details. But one expects this trend will continue to hurt an already depressed business environment.

The IAB survey found that 17% of news publishers said they were being adversely affected by blacklists. But this might be a low number — there are not always clear explanations for all the reductions in ad spend.

The issue of blacklisting is so pressing that the IAB plans to hold a meeting with advertisers to urge them not to blacklist advertising next to COVID-19 news content.

Cohen and others believe that facts and data about COVID-19 conditions continue to be of major value to consumers and advertisers.

1 comment about "Is Rising 'Blacklisting' Hurting TV News Networks?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 17, 2020 at 1:55 p.m.

    Wayne, according to a study I saw recently about a third of TV news content is now devoted to the pandemic---which is a lot, but hardly all of the average viewer's news diet. So, if a particular brand wants to avoid being near pandemic reporting that should pose no problem for the network ---it just moves the brand's spots to a portion of the content that is OK. I assume that some advertisers have no problem at all being in the reports which are  about the pandemic---usually these are at the outset of the content when viewers may be more attentive. I haven't checked to see what kinds of brands are going in this direction but this might be an ideal place for a toilet paper brand to be---especially if its commercial is all about "we" and not so much about "me"---the brand, that is.

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