Bluntly Blocking COVID-19 Keywords Is Not Right: GroupM’s Montgomery

  • News
  • March 30, 2020

VIA BEETCAM — The brand safety leader at the world’s biggest media-buying agency is urging advertisers – blacklisting ad inventory against coronavirus news stories could kill newspapers and, with them, democracy.

Last week, Comscore said 22% to 30% of all ad impressions were appearing in coronavirus-related content. Such content is now being widely blacklisted by ad buyers, whose brand safety tools allow them to use keywords to avoid their ads appearing against particular kinds of content. BuzzFeed also reported the scale of the problem.

Even as Comscore offered advertisers a new “epidemic brand safety filter” last week, the IAB and Digital Content Next called on advertisers to cease the practice.

Early in March, a GroupM executive told Digiday: “Less than one third of GroupM’s clients are blocking coronavirus terms, and those that aren’t either don’t advertise against news at all or don’t do a lot of keyword blocking in general”

Bad news is good news
In this video interview with Beet.TV, John Montgomery, EVP of global brand safety for GroupM, says: “Newspapers are a brand-safe environment in the main, they have high viewability, they have low ad fraud …

“Marketers are so worried about their ads being seen adjacent to the news of the virus. But research shows that people are not turned off brands if they see as adjacent to COVID-19 news.

“Integral Ad Science did some research recently that showed that 78% of people are fine with it. There are some exceptions for food and travel and that makes sense.

“Other research shows that the harder the news, the better. So, research does not support the current marketer concerns.”

Please watch the full interview on Beet.TV here.

Want to learn more? Download the Brand Safety Playbook.