Coronavirus Underscores The Need For An Ad Industry Crisis Response Team

March 11, 2020 | Share this article

By Joshua Lowcock

The unprecedented public health challenge of the coronavirus is also uncovering the challenges facing the ad tech industry around how to protect the public by combating the spread of misinformation. As with the virus itself, it’s critical that the industry practices good hygiene and acts responsibly to protect society.

As with every major crisis, the public turns to news for information. News organizations are working overtime to provide extended coverage and, in some instances, dropping their paywalls. Free access to reliable information is paramount during this time, so people can make informed decisions.

The challenge with coronavirus is that for some advertisers, it is triggering brand-safety concerns. This is because its coverage includes hot-button keywords such as “illness” and “death,” both of which are typically found in keyword blacklists. But there’s something different that makes this issue even more problematic: the uniqueness of the words, “coronavirus” and “COVID-19.”

Even advertisers that might not block “illness” and “death” may avoid the words “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” as if the words themselves are contagious. The result? Starving news publishers providing valuable and legitimate coverage of advertising revenue from Tier 1 marketers.

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