Newspapers to lose £50m in online ads as firms use coronavirus ‘blacklist’

When advertisers run digital campaigns, they blacklist keywords filled with keywords like “attack” and “death,” which automatically prevent ads from appearing in potentially problematic stories in which they are presented. Publishers say pandemic-related words, such as coronavirus and Covid-19, appear on industry-wide blacklists. This means that while national and regional newspaper publishers are getting a record number of digital readers who want to keep up with the pandemic, publishers are struggling to earn revenue from ads that are in their best interest. Advertiser blacklist technology is also arbitrary, which means that even positive or harmless bits, such as those on Joe Wicks’ YouTube PE phenomenon, family activities for people outside the home, or articles recommending TV shows, movies, and books, viewed separately they can be ad-free.