Advertisers Are Blacklisting News Stories That Contain Forbidden Words (wsj.com)

Zorro shares a report from The Wall Street Journal: Companies are increasingly insisting their ads do not appear near articles or videos that contain any of a long list of words. Like many advertisers, Fidelity Investments wants to avoid advertising online near controversial content. The Boston-based financial-services company has a lengthy blacklist of words it considers off-limits. If one of those words is in an article’s headline, Fidelity won’t place an ad there. Its list earlier this year, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, contained more than 400 words, including “bomb,” “immigration” and “racism.” Also off-limits: “Trump.” Some news organizations have had difficulty placing Fidelity’s ads on their sites, ad-sales executives said, because the list is so exhaustive and the terms appear in many news articles. Top 15 Forbidden Words: Dead, Shooting, Murder, Gun, Rape, Bomb, Died, Attack, Killed, Suicide, Trump, Crash, Crime, Explosion, Accident. “The ad-blacklisting threatens to hit publications’ revenue and is creating incentives to produce more lifestyle-oriented coverage that is less controversial than hard news,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Some news organizations are investing in technologies meant to gauge the way news stories make readers feel in the hopes of persuading advertisers that there are options for ad placement other than blacklisting.”

The use of lengthy keyword lists “is going to force publishers to do lifestyle content and focus on that at the expense of investigative journalism or serious journalism,” said Nick Hewat, commercial director for the Guardian, a U.K. publisher. “That is a long-term consequence of this sort of buying behavior.”

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