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NewsGuard Announces ‘Responsible Advertising for News Segments’ Menu

This Would Allow Brands to Stop Funding Misinformation While Restoring Ads to Quality News Publishers, Including Sites Serving Minority Communities and Local News Sites

Fully transparent RANS tools enable CEOs, CMOs and ESG board committees at companies that make Corporate Social Responsibility a priority to stop enabling misinformation and hoaxes–and return revenue to trustworthy news sites

NewsGuard, a company that deploys journalists to rate the credibility of news and information websites, has launched new exclusion and inclusion tools for marketers. The new Responsible Advertising for News Segments (RANS) include a constantly updated exclusion list to protect companies from having their ads unintentionally fund thousands of misinformation and hoax websites. The RANS inclusion list restores advertising to quality news sites, from trustworthy global news brands to smaller publishers serving communities of interest, which are being denied much-needed advertising revenue.

RANS will include the industry’s first inclusion list giving advertisers the option to include high-quality news and information news sites targeting the communities harmed by over-use of keyword blocklisting, including hundreds of websites serving Black, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities.

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“We’ve done multiple reports highlighting the problem of thousands of trusted brands funding COVID-19 and election hoax sites at the same time that their use of the verification companies’ blocking words de-funds trusted news sites,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill. “Even for brands whose CEOs, boards, and shareholders have so admirably made corporate social responsibility a priority this has been a blind spot—not because they want to advertise irresponsibly, but because ad tech alone cannot do the job or even report accurately where it is failing. RANS gives CEOs and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) board committees a simple, inexpensive way to measure CSR success, ensuring that corporate advertising dollars match their values by no longer unintentionally funding the online misinformation and disinformation that has become such a scourge.”

NewsGuard reports have found that programmatic advertising—which represents more than 85% of all digital advertising, totaling $80 billion in annual spending in the U.S. in 2020—currently funds misinformation and defunds quality news. For example, more than 4,000 blue-chip companies are funding COVID-19 misinformation sites, and more than 1,000 of these companies along with their programmatic advertising service providers funded “Stop the Steal” sites leading up to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. At the same time, much of the advertising inventory is currently deemed brand unsafe by keyword blocklists of terms such as “COVID-19,” “Black” and “gay,” cutting off ad revenue from hundreds of reliable news sites.

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“Artificial intelligence tools can be trained to identify pornography and hate speech, but until now there hasn’t been a tool available for the programmatic advertising process—for ad agencies, demand side platforms (DSPs) and verification companies—to protect brand safety against websites publishing hoaxes and misinformation,” said NewsGuard co-CEO Gordon Crovitz.

Media planning and buying agencies including IPG Mediabrands and Omnicom Media Group are making NewsGuard’s tools available to their clients, as will demand side platforms, supply side platforms and marketing technology firms. NewsGuard is in discussions with companies in numerous industries including financial services, technology, consumer goods and e-commerce about adding this new layer of brand-safety protection and corporate responsibility tool.

“These tools will be an important step forward in helping our clients advertise responsibly by avoiding websites that spread misinformation while supporting legitimate news sites that adhere to the basic journalistic standards that NewsGuard assesses,” said Joshua Lowcock, Chief Digital Officer of UM and Global Brand Safety Officer of Mediabrands.

“We have enabled our clients to block misinformation via inclusion lists for some time,” said Megan Pagliuca, Chief Activation Officer, Omnicom Media Group NA. “In working with NewsGuard, we can provide our clients deeper granularity to curate the right inventory and  support publishers with editorial integrity,” she added.

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The new RANS provide one-click options for advertisers to exclude thousands of websites publishing misinformation and hoaxes—many of which would not have financial support without this unintended advertising—and to include thousands of high-quality news sites. The “Black, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+” segment, for example, enables advertisers to support quality news sites serving these groups, while delivering valuable audiences to marketers.

“The combination of COVID-19 hoaxes and the January 6 events at the U.S. Capitol has made it urgent to solve the longstanding misinformation crisis plaguing the programmatic advertising industry,” said NewsGuard General Manager Matt Skibinksi. “No responsible advertiser or ad tech company intends advertising to fund thousands of misinformation and hoax sites, yet until now there has not been an effective solution available to them. At the same time, it’s an outrage that ‘keyword blocklists’ are boycotting advertising inventory on quality news sites.”

“We’re especially glad to launch the advertising industry’s first inclusion segment created to restore advertising to websites serving Black, Hispanic, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities,” said Carter Stone, NewsGuard ‘s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. “NewsGuard has identified high-quality news and information sites serving these communities that are effectively being boycotted through overuse of keyword blocklists.”

Clients can leverage NewsGuard’s unique, constantly updated data about news credibility, curated by trained journalists based on nine basic, apolitical and fully disclosed and transparent journalistic criteria:

  • Exclusion Segments: To exclude thousands of NewsGuard-identified misinformation websites from their campaigns, solving the urgent brand safety problem of ads supporting hoax sites and getting ahead of the current threats of shareholder litigation and media focus.
  • Inclusion Segments: To target quality news websites by adding thousands of trusted sources vetted by the NewsGuard team and certified as credible and brand-safe. This enables marketers to increase campaign reach by creating exceptions when using keyword blocklists, so that pages on credible news sites are included even if they mention a blocked term.
  • “Black, Asian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ News” segment: To restore advertising to high-quality sites serving specific communities of interest. Keywork blocklists banning terms such as “Black,” “Asian” and “gay” deny hundreds of websites much-needed advertising revenue. By using the NewsGuard curated list of these Green-rated (Trustworthy) sites, advertisers can end what has effectively become boycotts of these sites.

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