Brands are wary of news – It’s up to news editors to change their minds

Selleris a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Dev Pragad, President and CEO of Newsweek.

Marketers often tout that their products are durable and that their missions – their very reasons for existing – are purpose-driven.

But, too often, maintaining democracy ranks low on their list of causes.

At the start of the pandemic, many downright blocked brands their advertisements on all websites that mentioned the word “coronavirus”. At that time, when there was an urgent need to inform the public through news and information, marketers were stifling the potential revenue of news companies.

Although some of these marketers have finally corrected their course, my concern is that some brands continue to do a disservice to the public good.

A significant number of advertisers don’t just avoid bad news or burning issues. They stay completely away from news content.

However, there are ways digital news publishers, with the help of the ad tech ecosystem, can allay concerns and steer marketers away from making the wrong decisions. I believe it will take a three-pronged approach:

1. News publishers need to present a more compelling business case

As much as I would love to appeal to the moral compass of CMOs, but they are part of an industry increasingly obsessed with ROI. The pressure continues to mount. We need to meet traders where they are.

Some news publishers are well positioned to tap into booming retail media space through product reviews and affiliate marketing. Still, it won’t work for everyone. Fortunately, the news category has another, much more powerful degree of influence that can be better leveraged.

Right now, as CEOs around the world race to prove to investors that they are focused on achieving zero carbon goals while hoping to exert more influence on world leaders, publishers of news dominates audiences and influences perhaps those best suited to these endeavors.

To take advantage of these opportunities, publishers must demonstrate their value by investing in confirming attributes of research that we take for granted – such as the buying power of news consumers – as well as the influence they wield. . Programmatic software data can play an essential role here.

2. We must turn the technological solution in favor of publishers

In the programmatic advertising ecosystem, we constantly embrace the power and precision of our targeting tools. We must use this power over the information sector – not in the name of brand safety but brand defense.

Instead of stepping back and allowing marketers to avoid controversial topics or avoid news altogether, it’s up to news agencies and ad tech professionals to better channel the benefits of news.

Perhaps this takes the form of collaborative sales or joint investments in AI designed to present “safer information” to marketers via automated software. Or maybe we’re amplifying that effort by bringing together top ad tech companies to help establish a “safe news” SSP.

3. Embrace the identity shifts – and help shape the solutions

Beyond using advertising technology for targeting purposes, we also need to find ways to remind brands that news readers are consumers with diverse and mature interests. This audience presents a set of attractive characteristics for brands.

One way to do this is to adopt new, broader forms of ad categorization/targeting, such as Google Topics, or a number of emerging contextual targeting efforts. The more we as an industry work to ensure our audience is well represented through these new models, the more we will be able to attract advertising spend that is not entirely news-centric.

Of course, it won’t be easy. Digital publishing has long been a demanding business at the best of times. Our world is becoming increasingly complex, often unstable, and news can be hard to digest. Yet that is exactly why news agencies are so vital. We desperately need to find and implement sustainable, multi-pronged business models.

Yes, we must continue to appeal to marketers’ sense of responsibility. However, we need to better demonstrate, measure and deliver the meaningful value of engaging customers with journalism that matters.

Follow Newsweek (@Newsweek) and Ad Exchange (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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