In times of crisis, millions of people turn to news organizations for accurate and timely information. As COVID-19 began to spread early last year, traffic to major U.S. news sites jumped more than 50% compared to the same period the year prior, and time spent on those sites also skyrocketed.
However, that increase in visitor time and attention has not necessarily 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 “blocklisting,” a simplistic brand safety tactic that suppresses 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 3,000 advertisers have blocked ads from appearing near it.
Oracle continues to strongly support the vital efforts of news publishers to inform the public. In fact, many of the world’s best-known publisher brands use our contextual and brand safety products to proactively allocate their inventory precisely on behalf of their valued brand clients. 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 the overall context, not a single word.
Some content related to the crisis will clearly be unfit for all advertisers, however, each marketer needs to determine their own standards for brand suitability, For example, many advertisers might decide they are comfortable with ad placements around current content related to topics like personal hygiene, telework, streaming entertainment, food delivery, education, cooking, or exercise.
Taking a deeper look at blocklisting and its impact on campaigns, we’ve pulled together the following infographic that reveals the percentage of URLs that are actually deemed safe and unnecessarily blocked when it comes to coronavirus-related content. Additionally, it reveals how this content varies in brand safety risk, and the potential impressions lost due to basic keyword blocking tactics.