According to a campaign manager who works at a media agency, an anonymous popular automaker executive recently blocked keywords like "Nazis" in campaigns for the brand, claiming that such controversial content goes against what the brand stands for. In addition, the executive noted that the company has blocked hundreds of news agencies including foxnews.com, which has been banned since March.
"We've singled out Fox News because the client thinks that the site is controversial," the executive said, adding that, "We blacklisted it, along with sites like Breitbart and Infowars, for brand safety."
Apparently, brands have been asking media shops and buyers to blacklist sites like Breitbart, a far-right American news website, from their ad rosters for quite a while now. However, with recent political tensions, media buyers are now asking that their ads not pop up on even mainstream news sites like CNN and New York Times. Although the executive only confirmed Fox News has been blocked, it's likely that other mainstream sites have been banned as well.
"I think the definition of ‘mainstream' is changing," the president of a New York-based media agency said. "Because of the news proliferation, we have more content to monitor and determine what is appropriate for the client."
While some publishers have moved ads to non-news parts of their sites, many brands don't want their ads to show up in any news sources, according to the New York executive, who also requested that his name be withheld.
A senior vice president of a media shop based in Chicago said that some of his clients don't want their ads to show up on any political sources in general. Two of his financial service clients asked that their ads be removed from political news on any site — whether right-leaning or left-leaning. That's because many sites cover terrorism and racism stories that want to be avoided by some brands.
"In our experience, Foxnews.com has never been singled out by a client on a programmatic buy — it is a trusted source for many in the U.S., just as more center-left-leaning sites are trusted by others," the executive at the Chicago agency said. "That said, we do blacklist extremely politically divisive sites on both sides of the current debate."
According to Eric Bader, managing director of consulting firm Volando, "Advertisers may just be using Fox News as a symbol of rejecting offensive content or ideas."
"[It's] a pretty political move for a brand to publicly reject a publisher, but the calculation is likely to be ‘better safe than sorry."