News brands set to lose £50m if advertisers continue to blacklist coronavirus

News industry has penned open letter.

Newspapers: stories about pandemic have dominated coverage
Newspapers: stories about pandemic have dominated coverage

News brands could lose £50m in ad revenue over the next three months if brands continue to block their campaigns from appearing alongside stories about coronavirus.

That’s the message in an open letter published in a number of national and regional titles today as they join forces to call on advertisers to support journalism during the pandemic.

The letter explains that while there has been an uplift in traffic to news sites, this has not coincided with a rise in ad revenue because many brands make use of lists that automatically block their ads from appearing alongside content that mentions certain words – with "coronavirus" one of those words. 

As a result, if the Covid-19 crisis lasts for another three months, news brands expect that they could lose £50m in ad revenue because of this.

The appeal is supported by the news industry's trade bodies Newsworks, the News Media Association, the Society of Editors, the Association for Online Publishing, the Internet Advertising Bureau and the IPA.

Campaign reported last week that several newsrooms have seen page views up by 50% and a more than 70% increase in unique visitors on coronavirus-related stories, information and content, according to figures from Newsworks.

Guardian News & Media commercial director Nick Hewat said that politics are a "benign" area to which blacklists have extended and that blacklists are costing news brands millions of pounds.