At a time when almost everyone is rightly focused on the immediate crisis, the well-being of their loved ones and what may or may not come next, advertising might not feel like a top priority. Marketers in some sectors, like retail, travel and hospitality, are facing far more pressing challenges. And in other verticals where brands are experiencing immense demand for their products and services, resources are rightly focused on infrastructure, production and distribution. Advertising may feel like a nice-to-have when there are far more important must-haves at this time.
Yet, for many brands, advertising matters even more in times of crisis. And in particular, advertising in trusted news can be a win-win for advertisers who, more than ever, need their marketing to perform, and also want to demonstrate their financial support for the news that has become such a critical part of our daily lives. What’s new is that improved tools are making it easier for marketers to safely and intelligently achieve a positive return on investment in trusted news, and the collaboration across the industry around it is unprecedented.
How news has suddenly become more essential than ever
COVID-19 touches us all on a personal level. News has become the most important read of the day. We’re glued to the news. It’s our guide to living through this crisis, and we’re depending on journalists we trust to tell us how to stay safe. But journalists must be paid. And publishing trusted news—a vital public service—costs money to reliably produce.
Advertising is the primary financing mechanism for the trusted news every one of us is consuming in droves. But many news organizations are facing an existential crisis of their own because, just at the time when they have removed their paywalls to ensure all consumers can access important COVID-19 facts, advertisers have doubled-down on news avoidance and blunt keyword blocking. That blocking activity has dramatically reduced ad revenue that these news publishers so badly need.
Why aren’t advertisers flocking to news?
Most marketers are keenly aware that news performs, and it’s no secret that professional journalism is facing difficult economic times. So why aren’t more brands flocking to the news? Among the common answers is the perceived lack of tools necessary to address marketer concerns with brand safety. Fear has led marketers to either avoid news or over-block content.
The good news is that times have changed. Brand safety and suitability tools have substantially improved. They’re far better in contextualizing the page and discerning sentiment from the story. These tools now enable advertisers to eliminate blunt domain- or keyword-level news avoidance strategies, which gives brands the ability to unlock the high performance value of news without risk. Advertisers who do so are doing good for the news sector, which is good for everybody.
How we’re making it easier for advertisers
MediaMath and TRUSTX recognize that brands need a reliable way to gain access to news audiences at scale within suitable news content they trust. To help address this challenge, both our organizations are working together—and with other trusted partners—to lower the risk while making it easier to advertise in news. We’re putting brand suitability at the forefront. Specifically:
- MediaMath is partnering with data scientists at Peer39 to give buyers more granular insight, and far greater access to news content that might previously have been perceived as unsuitable (see our April 2 blog on this topic).
- TRUSTX is enabling buyers to select 100% brand-safe professional news publishers through a “Special News” Deal ID. With full URL transparency, MediaMath and Peer39 can safely deliver news audiences at scale via TRUSTX without any added brand suitability risk.
In addition, drawing on a year-long partnership between TRUSTX and the 4A’s Advertising Protection Bureau (APB), we are defining what it means to deliver brand suitability in trusted news environments. Together with TRUSTX and others, MediaMath intends to put the recommendations from the APB’s latest report into action on our platform.
What can marketers do now?
- Lean into News: Now is the time for marketers to discard legacy news avoidance and keyword blocking strategies in favor of a more precise approach to brand suitability. The 4A’s report highlights that trusted news content is brand-safe. The tools we have available with Peer39 right now have the precision required to match advertisers’ nuanced brand suitability requirements with appropriate context, sentiment and surrounding content.
- Help spread the word on COVID-19 safety: This is also a time when marketers can take advantage of a COVID-19 safety awareness PSA matching program that premium news publishers have committed to run. To make it easy for marketers to engage with news content and incent them to do so immediately, TRUSTX and MediaMath are providing a “Special News” Deal ID on the MediaMath platform. What makes it special is that the premium news publishers will donate 10% of impressions spent via TRUSTX, using the Special News PMP, toward The Ad Council and CDC COVID-19 PSA campaign.
These are just two steps that marketers can take now, while MediaMath, TRUSTX and our other friends and partners continue to make it safer and easier to invest in advertising alongside trusted news.
Truly purpose-driven advertising
For the better part of the last decade, our industry has raised the bar when it comes to advertising for good. Marketers have invested in sustainability, and have made it part of their missions to link their brands to purpose beyond profits.
While many marketers have long benefited from the performance potential of professional news, the increasingly unpredictable nature of news made it a risky advertising environment. Fortunately, brand safety and suitability tools have dramatically improved. And the curated, professional news publishers that MediaMath and TRUSTX are surfacing for brands even further limits risk. Which means there’s never been a better time for purpose-driven advertisers to invest in the growth of their brands. And it means there’s never been an easier time to invest in the sustainability of trusted, professional news.
Danny Sepulveda is MediaMath’s SVP for Policy and Advocacy. He’s focused on shaping, implementing and communicating MediaMath’s policies and practices around the consumer value proposition, privacy protection and public policy. Follow Danny on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
David Kohl is TRUSTX’s President and CEO. He’s a passionate advocate for improving the health and vibrancy of the media and advertising supply-chain, and brings more than 25 years of M&E industry strategy and operations consulting to the TRUSTX leadership team. Follow David on LinkedIn and on Twitter.