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Breitbart faces ad pressure

News, 24 November 2016

NEW YORK: The media fallout from the US presidential election has taken a new twist as adtech firm AppNexus has barred Breitbart News, the Trump-supporting site, from using its ad-serving tools, citing hate speech rules, while some brands have blacklisted the site.

Bloomberg reported AppNexus spokesman Joshua Zeitz as saying that Breitbart breached a policy against content that incites violence.

"We did a human audit of Breitbart and determined there were enough articles and headlines that cross that line, using either coded or overt language," Zeitz said, adding that AppNexus was not taking a view on Breitbart's editorial stance.

"We have no interest in turning off sites because of ideology. That's not what this is about. This is about specific content that violates the hate speech code," he stated.

Larry Solov, chief executive officer at Breitbart News Network, maintained however that Breitbart "has always and continues to condemn racism and bigotry in any form".

And, in a message to advertisers, he highlighted the site's "exceptional growth" and claimed to have attracted more than 45m unique visitors in the past thirty days. (ComScore gave it 19m unique monthly visitors in October, up from 12.9m a year earlier.)

"We have built an engaged community of loyal readers who are also a powerful consumer group," Solov said.

While Breitbart does not buy ads directly using AppNexus, Bloomberg noted that it does show ads bought through online ad networks and exchanges. And some brands have said they are taking steps to ensure their advertising sold this way does not appear on Breitbart.

"We are looking into actively blocking our ads from appearing on Breitbart News Network," said a spokeswoman for Warby Parker. Under pressure from social media users, other brands – including Allstate, Modcloth, Nest, SoFi and Salsify, according to Digiday – have already blacklisted the site.

The president-elect is an enthusiastic user of Twitter, but Breitbart reported claims that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey overrode an upfront deal for the Trump campaign to pay at least $5m to generate engagement through customised hashtag branding.

Data sourced from Bloomberg, Digiday, Breitbart News; additional content by Warc staff