As the world has watched the COVID-19 situation develop this year, the term ‘coronavirus’ has climbed news publisher’s block lists.
Keyword blocking is a brand protection tool used in programmatic advertising that prevents ads from appearing next to content containing specific words.
According to Digiday, it was the eighth-most common word in January and the second-most in February.
We’re barely halfway through March, but it is safe to assume coronavirus would already have top spot.
Technology company Integral Ad Science recently revealed it blocked the “coronavirus” keyword 38.4 million times.
Keyword blocking of coronavirus and COVID-19 has been so aggressive that it has created “pricing opportunities” for advertisers, particular around packaged goods and pharmaceuticals.
But according to DoubleVerify COO Matt McLaughlin, the online advertising world needs to rethink how it approaches these issues.
“For all of us, the coronavirus challenge is a unique news incident,” he said.
“It will not simply “go away.” Instead, it will continue to be a key focus for trusted news publishers as they do the critically important work of keeping the public informed with reliable, accurate information.
“Support of trusted news at the time of a global health pandemic is something we want all brands to strongly consider.”
It is common practice in online advertising to not be seen sponsoring ‘bad news’.
But DoubleVerify has recommended advertisers consider a host of unique approaches for the COVID-19 outbreak.
This includes, exempting trusting news publishers from its “Natural Disaster” content classification category, exempting trusted news providers from coronavirus-related keyword blocklists and consider adding trusted news site homepages to their exemption lists.
The spread of misinformation has been a huge issue through the entire saga. This is why McLaughlin is advocating so strongly for advertisers to align themselves with trusted news sites.
“In general, we encourage all brands to advertise across trusted news sites as broadly as possible, unless there is a direct connection between a news incident and their brand,” he said.
“At the end of the day, if a brand is advertising on the nightly news during the coronavirus crisis, or the front page of a major newspaper, then The New York Times homepage is no different and should be supported.”
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