Why brand safety is important for advertising-backed publishers

One interesting point in this WSJ story, https://www.wsj.com/articles/tumblr-and-the-end-of-the-eyeballs-are-everything-era-11566014411?shareToken=st25023c0944c54846845dba9de27f1c68, is that Tumblr’s openness to all forms of content, made it an unsafe place for advertisers. Tumblr was unable to channel advertising away from the content advertisers wanted to avoid while alternatives, such as Facebook, were able to do as advertisers requested. 

Advertisers have blacklists of words in content they do not want ads to appear with. In a story in the WSJ on Thursday, the list of words includes Trump, bomb, attack, crash and accident, see https://www.wsj.com/articles/advertisers-blacklist-hard-news-including-trump-fearing-backlash-11565879086?shareToken=sta8e05cebd27c4415b477f28a58161263. Even in business writing, words like crash and accident, are often in articles, in secondary meanings. For example, during last week’s 800-point DJIA drop on Wednesday, many called it a crash. 

Airlines don’t like their ads to appear around stories on plane crashes. I get that. When I was young, I was once afraid to fly because of stories I had seen on TV about a plane crash a few weeks earlier. Adults even now often say they feel nervous flying soon after plane crashes, but they still fly. It would be too easy to for the airline’s ads to be viewed as in bad taste. Better to just avoid the publisher’s content.


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