The golden rule of advertising is to be where the eyeballs are, but it seems that at a time when many respected publishers are seeing a surge in news-hungry visitors to their sites, they find themselves unable to monetize the traffic.

According to AdAge, publishers are complaining that third-party measurement companies are blacklisting content linked to the coronavirus pandemic in the name of brand safety.

The content being deemed unsuitable to appear alongside advertising includes Business Insiders’ “13 movies and shows to watch during your coronavirus quarantine”, as well as the home pages of respected publications such as the New York Times and Vox.

“The idea that a Vox, or the New York Times’ homepage, is being blocked as a default option is a prime example of brand safety being past its intended solution that it’s trying to solve for,” said Ryan Pauley, chief revenue officer at Vox Media, told AdAge.

The blacklisting comes at a time when publishers need advertising revenue more than ever. The New York Times has flagged up to investors a likely decline in digital revenue of 10%, and Business Insider told AdAge that its CPMs (cost per 1,000 impressions) have fallen by the same rate.

Incorrect blocking of safe content on premium news sites was attributed to $2.8bn in lost revenue last year, according to cybersecurity company Cheq. That’s one in every four ad dollars spent programmatically, publisher AiThority reported.

Several measurement companies are blacklisting content linked to the coronavirus epidemic, among them DoubleVerify, which was the subject of a Tweet by BeesWax CEO Ari Paparo showing DoubleVerify’s clouds covering the New York Times’ homepage. The clouds are DoubleVerify’s way of covering areas of a page it deems unsuitable for advertising.

“This is going to highlight some of the inadequacies of the ad technology ecosystem,” Pauley told AdAge. “There are a lot of middlemen between the brand and media partner and there isn’t much value being added along the way.” 

Sourced from AdAge, AiThority