At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many brands may have run away from advertising in news outlets.

But they should never have declared news fell outside of “brand safety” descriptions.

That is what a growing number of industry executives, even those who represent the advertisers and agencies, are now coming out to say.

Marla Kaplowitz understands the concern.

“The content that people are experiencing in some ways is really challenging and concerning for some, especially when you’re hearing about deaths related to COVID-19,” says the CEO of 4As, the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

“(But) news is brand-safe. Premium news environments are positive places for brands to be. We know that millennials are going there in higher rates.”

The reality of safety

Audience research is piling up that shows advertisers perhaps don’t need to dodge coronavirus news at all. An April study conducted by Integral Ad Science (IAS) found:

  • A 12% growth in consumers seeking out coronavirus content online
  • 75% of consumers were actively seeking out news online, that’s 16% up from March, a huge jump.
  • And there was a 27% growth in consumers actively seeking out news content
    due to coronavirus situation.
  • 28% of consumers said they were unlikely to engage with an ad against coronavirus content.
  • But a vast majority said that adjacency would not change their opinion of a brand.

Thankfully, advertisers’ view may be softening. In the last few weeks, IAS found a 88% decrease in keyword-blocking of COVID-19-related specific keywords.

Role of agencies

Kaplowitz thinks ad agencies have an important role to play in ensuring brands take the right steps.

“It has to be the right channel and the right way to verify that it is appropriate content that is not fake,” she says.

“The most important thing is to make sure that you are hyper focused on ensuring that you’re eliminating fraud, malware, that you’re being brand safe within whatever environments that you are advertising.”

This video is part of a series titled Brand Suitability at the Forefront, presented by Integral Ad Science.  For more segments from the series, please visit this page.