UK newspaper and magazine publishers lost almost £170m in digital revenue last year as technology designed to stop advertisements from appearing next to hard-hitting content, such as shootings and terrorism, also inadvertently blocked them from appearing in some of the most popular stories of the year.
Publishers found many articles related to some of the most well read and therefore commercially valuable stories of the year – on topics ranging from the Rugby World Cup to Game of Thrones – shorn of advertising.
When advertisers run digital campaigns they use keyword blacklists – stocked with trigger words such as “attack”, “death” and “sex” – that automatically stop ads running in potentially problematic stories that feature them.
While publishers have traditionally encouraged the use of such brand reputation protection measures in the digital age, blacklists are ballooning in some cases to as many as 3,000 or 4,000 words, blocking ads from many different stories.
Oh. What a shame. So I guess ad networks that work based on algorithms don’t work as expected. Gee. What a surprise.
One senior executive at a UK media agency, which handles the advertising for numerous household-name brands, cited a case of being asked by a client to create a blacklist comprised of “any negative words”. Another agency executive knows of multiple advertisers who added the word “is” to their blacklists, wanting to avoid having ads appear around material on the Islamic State (Isis) militant group, virtually guaranteeing zero ads appearing on any news sites. Wildman says that the word Manchester is still on many blacklists three years after the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
Yes, the stupid is strong too.