In times of crisis, millions of people turn to news organizations for accurate and timely information. Over the last month, traffic to major U.S. news sites jumped more than 50% compared to the same period last year, and time spent on those sites also skyrocketed.
However, that increase in visitor time and attention has not translated into similar gains in revenue, which is essential to fund those news sources. That’s because a broader advertising pullback has been exacerbated by extensive keyword-based blocking of all content referencing the virus.
The root of the problem lies in “blocklist,” a simplistic brand safety tactic that blocks ads based on keywords appearing in URLs or nearby content. According to news reports, “coronavirus” is now the number one term on industry blocklists, and more than 3 thousand advertisers have blocked ads from appearing near it.
Oracle Data Cloud strongly supports the vital efforts of news publishers to inform the public. We are using our advanced Contextual Intelligence tools to help advertisers and publishers understand and evaluate billions of web pages and other digital content, so they can identify brand-suitable environments for their advertising based on overall context, not a single word.
For example, many advertisers might decide they are comfortable with ad placements around current content related to topics like personal hygiene, cleaning, telework, streaming entertainment, food delivery, education, cooking, books, games, or exercise. While each marketer needs to determine its own standards for brand suitability, this type of related content may be appropriate.
Some content related to the crisis will clearly not be appropriate for all advertisers. However, blocklisting content solely based on virus-related terms can block legitimate news sites altogether, excluding appropriate placement opportunities while cutting off revenue that funds important news sources.
Such funding is critical right now. In a clarion call to advertisers to stop aggressively blocklisting news sites, David Cohen, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, laid out what is at stake: “Open the floodgates of advertising dollars to support credible news sources. Don't debate. Don't delay. Do it now. The stakes are too high to do anything less.”