The New York Times has taken a look at the the Covid-19 pandemic as a brand safety issue. Specifically their March 10, 2020 article, Cruise Line Ads Get Caught in a Coronavirus News Cycle, looked at the ad adjacency issues involved in advertising against the current news cycles.
The Brand Safety Institute was heavily represented in the subject-matter experts the Times interviewed and quoted. BSI co-founder, Mike Zaneis, was quoted twice, giving context on how advertising has changed in the digital age, and again on the dangerous side-effects of too-broad keyword blocking.
“It used to be pretty easy — broadcasters had a few ad slots, they had a direct relationship with the advertisers, and they knew which ones they needed to be hyper vigilant about,” said Mike Zaneis, a co-founder of the training organization Brand Safety Institute. “Now, the scale creates a huge challenge: There might be 10,000 stories a day about coronavirus, there may be 100 different advertisers serving ads, and they’re different based on who’s watching and what platform it’s on.”
The anxiety surrounding the outbreak is creating openings for shady marketers, said Joshua Lowcock, the chief digital and global brand safety officer for the marketing and media agency UM. Coronavirus is generating heavy news coverage, creating more space for ads. But as larger companies steer clear, the supply is being filled with bids from what he calls “profiteering opportunists.”
“Because there isn’t demand from legitimate advertisers, you’ve got unscrupulous advertisers stepping into that void,” he said.
As a result, dubious ads that normally cannot afford to land near high-quality content are squeezing into prime positions, taking advantage of the trust built up on those sites, Mr. Zaneis said.
“The slimy folks on the internet will always find the little cracks and crevices and ooze in there,” he said.
Lowcock's words were also used to close the article with what is hopefully a wake-up call for digital advertisers, publishers, and platforms:
Publishers are girding for more uncomfortable ad placements.
“The platforms are attempting to respond,” Mr. Lowcock said. “But by and large, the industry’s ill prepared to deal with this type of event.”