Political tensions have reached a point where some brands are perceiving mainstream news outlets as too controversial, leading media buyers to pull ads from those sites.
One campaign manager at a holding group media agency said a major automaker decided last month to stop serving ads in the news category in case the content didn’t align with the brand’s values. Then, after violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, the agency blocked keywords including “Nazis” and “Charlottesville” in programmatic campaigns for the brand. This exec, like the other three media agency executives interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity due to political sensitivities.
The executive said the blocked news category contains hundreds of publishers, including foxnews.com, which also is the only mainstream news site that has been on the agency’s blacklist since March.
“We’ve singled out Fox News because the client thinks that the site is controversial,” the exec said. “We blacklisted it, along with sites like Breitbart and Infowars, for brand safety.”
Brands asking their media shops to blacklist spoofed domains and obviously problematic sites like Breitbart from their ad rosters is nothing new. The difference is that now, media buyers are preventing their ads from showing up on any news sites, which would include mainstream ones like CNN and New York Times. Fox News was the only mainstream news site that these sources said was specifically blocked in their programmatic buys by certain clients.
“I think the definition of ‘mainstream’ is changing,” said a president of a New York-based media agency. “Because of the news proliferation, we have more content to monitor and determine what is appropriate for the client.”