'Shooting,' 'Bomb,' 'Trump': Advertisers Blacklist News Stories Online - The Wall Street Journal

'Shooting,' 'Bomb,' 'Trump': Advertisers Blacklist News Stories Online - The Wall Street Journal

'Shooting,' 'Bomb,' 'Trump': Advertisers Blacklist News Stories Online - The Wall Street Journal

Posted: 15 Aug 2019 07:24 AM PDT

Photo: Angela Calderon/The Wall Street Journal

Like many advertisers, Fidelity Investments wants to avoid advertising online near controversial content. The Boston-based financial-services company has a lengthy blacklist of words it considers off-limits.

If one of those words is in an article's headline, Fidelity won't place an ad there. Its list earlier this year, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, contained more than 400 words, including "bomb," "immigration" and "racism." Also off-limits: "Trump."

Some news organizations have had difficulty placing Fidelity's ads on their sites, ad-sales executives said, because the list is so exhaustive and the terms appear in many news articles.

Big advertisers have been burned several times in recent years when their digital ads appeared next to offensive content, including fabricated news articles, hateful or racist videos on YouTube and pornographic material.

Such miscues happen, in part, because of the complexities of online ad-buying, where brands generally target certain kinds of audiences rather than specific sites or types of content. It has become clear to advertisers that one way to protect themselves is to stipulate the websites or types of web content they want to avoid, and ensure their partners—digital ad brokers and publishers—honor those wishes.

"Political stories are, regardless of party affiliation, not relevant to our brand," a Fidelity spokesman said in a written statement. The company also avoids several other topics that it says don't align with published content about business and finance.

Marketers have used blacklists for years to sidestep controversy. Airlines avoided articles dealing with airline crashes, for instance. Now those blacklists are becoming more sophisticated, specific and extensive, ad executives said.

Online news publishers are feeling the impact, from smaller outlets to large players such as CNN.com, USA Today-owner Gannett Co. , the Washington Post and the Journal, according to news and ad executives.

The operations area of Fidelity Investments Center in Albuquerque last December. Photo: Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal/Zuma Press

The ad-blacklisting threatens to hit publications' revenue and is creating incentives to produce more lifestyle-oriented coverage that is less controversial than hard news. Some news organizations are investing in technologies meant to gauge the way news stories make readers feel in the hopes of persuading advertisers that there are options for ad placement other than blacklisting.

Consumer-products company Colgate-Palmolive Co. , sandwich chain Subway and fast-food giant McDonald's Corp. are among the many companies blocking digital ad placements in hard news to various degrees, according to people familiar with those companies' strategies.

Some companies are creating keyword blacklists so detailed as to make almost all political or hard-news stories off-limits for their ads. "It is de facto news blocking," said Megan Pagliuca, chief data officer at Hearts & Science, an ad-buying firm owned by Omnicom Group Inc.

The use of lengthy keyword lists "is going to force publishers to do lifestyle content and focus on that at the expense of investigative journalism or serious journalism," said Nick Hewat, commercial director for the Guardian, a U.K. publisher. "That is a long-term consequence of this sort of buying behavior." The Guardian has had some advertisers block words such as "Brexit," he said.

During the second quarter of this year, 177 advertisers that worked with ad measurement firm DoubleVerify Inc. blocked their ads from appearing on news or political content online, up 33% from the year-earlier period and more than double the 2017 total, the company said.

Integral Ad Science Inc., a firm that ensures ads run in content deemed safe for advertisers, said that of the 2,637 advertisers running campaigns with it in June, 1,085 brands blocked the word "shooting," 314 blocked "ISIS" and 207 blocked "Russia." Almost 560 advertisers blocked "Trump," while 83 blocked "Obama."

The average number of keywords the company's advertisers were blocking in the first quarter was 261. One advertiser blocked 1,553 words, it said.

The polarized political environment in the U.S. has put brands on heightened alert. Marketers are mindful of the backlash they can face on social media when customers feel they advertised in offensive content. One Twitter account, Sleeping Giants, called out hundreds of brands that appeared on the right-wing news site Breitbart News Network following the 2016 presidential election, prompting widespread blacklisting of the site.

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Colgate-Palmolive is blocking online ad placements in news stories, according to people with knowledge of its ad strategy. "In general, our media buying goals are to advertise where people are most likely to be receptive to what we have to say," a Colgate spokeswoman said in an email. The company said it looks for "opportunities more likely to fit with the brand's positive, optimistic message."

Subway said it has blacklisted 70,000 websites, including most hard-news outlets. The company wants to align with "positivity and the moments when our guests will be most likely to consider getting Subway," said Melissa Sutton, Subway's director of media services.

Used-car retailer CarMax Inc. blocks online ads it purchases through automated systems from appearing next to news content in categories such as "disasters," "extreme violence" and "inflammatory politics" to ensure the integrity of its brand, the company said.

McDonald's currently is blocking hard news from its automated ad purchases in the U.S., according to a person familiar with its ad buying. "The first time your brand is damaged, it's not easily fixed," said Bob Rupczynski, senior vice president of marketing technology at McDonald's, during a recent ad conference in Cannes, France.

Pedestrians walk past a McDonald's Corp. restaurant in Chicago in July. Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg

Hotel company Marriott International Inc. avoids buying digital ads near opinion or commentary news, according to a person familiar with its approach.

Alphabet Inc. 's Google has a long keyword blacklist that contains more than 500 words and phrases, including "privacy," "federal investigation," "antitrust," "racism," "FBI," "taxes," "anti-Semitic," "gun control" and "drought," according to a copy reviewed by the Journal. The list has made it difficult for at least one news publisher to place Google ads on its site, a person familiar with the matter said.

Blacklisting is cutting into the revenue of some online news publishers, even though they sometimes can replace blocked ads with content from other advertisers.

The audiences of many online publishers grew after President Trump launched his campaign—the "Trump bump." At the same time, "they are losing revenue because some clients are using extensive keyword exclusion lists," said John Montgomery, executive vice president of global brand safety at GroupM, one of the world's largest ad-buying firms.

It is a worrisome trend for the news business, a sector already taking a hit as advertising spending shifts to online ad giants Facebook Inc. and Google. Spending on newspaper print ads in the U.S. has plummeted 32% over the past five years, according to estimates from Zenith, an ad-buying company owned by Publicis Groupe SA .

CNN.com, which is owned by AT&T Inc., said it deals with some advertisers whose blacklists exceed 1,000 words. Among the words advertisers most often wanted to avoid on CNN.com during the first half of the year were "shooting," "Mueller," " Michael Cohen " and "crash." The most-blocked term during the time period was "Trump," which was blocked 636,636 times, CNN said.

Some digital publishers said the push for brand safety amounts to indirect censorship. Vice Media told advertisers at a presentation in May that it will no longer allow brands to block 25 words, including "bisexual," "gay," "HIV," "lesbian," "Latino," "Middle Eastern," "Jewish" and "Islamic."

"Bias should not be the collateral damage of our much-needed brand-safety efforts," said Cavel Khan, senior vice president of client partnerships for North America at the Brooklyn-based media company.

Marketers became more aggressive about protecting their brands online after a 2017 article by the Times of London that carried the headline: "Big brands fund terror through online adverts." The article reported that ads from well-known brands were appearing on YouTube channels promoting hate speech or terrorism.

In the ensuing months, similar ad-placement problems plagued YouTube and other advertising platforms such as Facebook. Advertisers began taking a more cautious approach to digital advertising, enlisting the help of firms specializing in "brand safety," ad buyers said.

"What turned out to be a reaction to protect a brand from unsafe things that are mostly user generated content," on sites such as YouTube, ended up hurting media companies focused on producing real journalism, said Christine Cook, senior vice president and chief revenue officer of CNN's digital operations.

The Colgate-Palmolive Co. New York office in 2018. Photo: Michael Brochstein/LightRocket/Getty Images

In automated ad buying, brands aim their ads not at specific websites, but at audiences with certain characteristics—people with certain shopping or web browsing histories, for example. Their ads are matched in real time to available inventory in online ad marketplaces that can come from thousands of websites. That is why brands sometimes are surprised to find their ads on websites they find controversial.

Ad-tech firms specializing in brand safety offer advertisers multiple ways to control their ad placements. Advertisers can block entire categories, such as "politics" or "violence," using classifications brand-safety firms have set up after crawling the web. They can avoid certain keywords that appear in an article or headline. And they can establish a blacklist of sites to avoid or a white-list of sites they deem safe.

Brand safety has become a big business on Madison Avenue. Some agencies have hired teams of people to monitor digital ad placements, and some marketers have hired brand-safety officers.

Ad-technology firm OpenSlate said so many companies have asked for help avoiding news and political content on YouTube that it developed an algorithm last year to identify channels focusing those areas. Mike Henry, OpenSlate's chief executive officer, said about one-third of its top 100 clients are currently avoiding news and politics on YouTube.

Some ad-sales executives said the technology used for brand safety is too blunt because it doesn't take into account the full context of how specific words are used in a news story or video. CNN.com and Gannett are creating technology intended to give advertisers a better way to gauge if a news story is controversial.

CNN.com said it is testing a new product dubbed SAM, for Sentiment Analysis Moderator, that uses machine learning to score its site's content for whether it will make readers feel "mostly negative," "somewhat negative," "neutral," "somewhat positive" or "mostly positive."

CNN tested the system by having it score 70,000 pieces of content, then having human editors review the content to see whether the technology worked. The company is testing the system with some advertisers who want to buy ads based on sentiment.

The New York Times and USA Today also have been using sentiment analysis to help brands advertise in news articles that may have a positive or optimistic sentiment.

Allison Murphy, senior vice president for ad innovation at New York Times Co., said the company now offers several different ad-targeting options. "We can satisfy a brand that is fine with politics but doesn't want to be around President Trump," she said.

In May, representatives of several companies, including CNN.com, USA Today and the Journal met to discuss how they could work with ad agencies and measurement companies to devise a way to move the sector beyond keyword blacklists, according to people familiar with the meetings.

The "overreliance on long keyword blacklists has a real cost" to both publishers and brands, said Josh Stinchcomb, global chief revenue officer of the Journal and Barron's, both owned by News Corp . "To that end, we are building proprietary tools that ensure brand safety."

The Washington Post also is using new technologies that help advertisers gauge the context of stories.

Ms. Cook at CNN.com said news organizations must change advertisers' perception of news. "One of the things I have been evangelizing is all the dimensions of other content types" the company creates, she said.

Some news publishers, including CNN.com and USA Today, are producing and promoting more ad-friendly lifestyle, technology, business and sports content.

"If a client says to us, 'We are just really not comfortable with news,' unlike some of our competitors, we don't have to say, 'Let me talk to you about why you should run in news,' " said Michael Kuntz, chief operating officer of national sales at USA Today Network, which includes USA Today and more than 100 local news outlets.

Still, he said, "the future of the digital news space is heavily reliant on us continuing to change the perception around why news does not need to be a polarizing category."

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

OneDigital Named to Inc. 5000 List, Surpasses Record Market Growth - Argus Press

Posted: 15 Aug 2019 06:05 AM PDT

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug 15, 2019--

OneDigital Health and Benefits, an industry-leading provider of employee benefits and human resource solutions, announced today its 13 th consecutive appearance on the annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing companies. The consecutive appearance on the list is consequential; less than one percent of companies ever featured on the list have gained thirteen-time honoree status and OneDigital is one of only 12 companies to do so.

OneDigital secured its spot by maintaining record financial performance year-over-year—a testament to its continued expansion nationwide. With strong organic growth, twenty-eight acquisitions in 2018 and another 13 year-to-date, OneDigital has grown its total revenue by a factor of 27X since its inaugural appearance on the Inc. 5000 list in 2007.

OneDigital acts as a strategic partner to employers on all aspects of their benefits plan design and HR strategy. Through the convergence of benefits, human resources consulting and technology, OneDigital's local market strategists help employers control costs, compete for top talent and meet the growing demands of the multigenerational workplace.

"We began the year with a renewed commitment to enhancing our customer's experience through innovation and forward-thinking," said OneDigital's President and CEO Adam Bruckman. "Being named to the Inc. 5000 list for the 13 th consecutive time is a testament to our ongoing growth strategy that allows us to continue delivering exceptional benefits and HR solutions in an evolving industry."

"The companies on this year's Inc. 5000 have followed so many different paths to success," said Inc. editor in chief James Ledbetter. "There's no single course you can follow or investment you can take that will guarantee this kind of spectacular growth. But what they have in common is persistence and seizing opportunities."

Inc. 5000 eligibility requirements include being a privately owned, U.S.-based company and providing detailed financial information to determine growth rate in the specified time period. The 2019 Inc. 5000 recipients achieved an astounding three-year average growth of 454 percent, and a median rate of 157 percent.

The Inc. 5000 recognition is among a long list of honors OneDigital has earned this past year. Other awards include being named to the Atlanta Chapter of The Association for Corporate Growth® (ACG)'s "2019 Georgia Fast 40," ranked 18 th on Business Insurance's list of the "Top 100 Brokers," and named a 2019 "Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®" by the National Association for Business Resources. At the start of 2018, OneDigital ranked 13 th on Employee Benefit Adviser's list of the Top 50 Benefit Brokerages of 2017, in the Large Group Market.

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including OneDigital's company profile, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

About OneDigital Health and Benefits

OneDigital Health and Benefits, the nation's largest company focused exclusively on employee benefits and HR, combines people and technology to power business growth. Serving companies of all sizes, OneDigital offers employers a sophisticated combination of strategic benefit advisory services, analytics, compliance support, human resources management tools and comprehensive insurance offerings. Headquartered in Atlanta, OneDigital's more than 1,600 employee benefits and human resource strategists serve the needs of more than 50,000 employers across the nation and manages over $5.8 billion in premiums as a result. OneDigital has been named to the  Inc. 5000 List of America's fastest-growing companies  every year since 2007. OneDigital's experience offers a fresh thinking and strategic perspective that will improve all aspects of plan design and performance.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190815005379/en/

CONTACT: For OneDigital

Allyson Smith, OneDigital




SOURCE: OneDigital Health and Benefits

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 08/15/2019 09:05 AM/DISC: 08/15/2019 09:05 AM


For the Fifth Consecutive Year, Modernizing Medicine Secures Position on Inc. 5000 - Odessa American

Posted: 15 Aug 2019 10:23 AM PDT

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug 15, 2019--

Inc. magazine revealed that Modernizing Medicine ® is once again on its annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. A mere four percent of companies have made the list five times. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy's most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Microsoft, Dell, Domino's Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known organizations gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000. Modernizing Medicine ranked No. 2270 on the annual list.

"It's quite an honor to be one of only four percent of companies to have made the list five times. Our clients' trust and support over the years, along with our dedicated team of over 750 employees, has helped us experience such sustained growth," stated Daniel Cane, CEO and co-founder of Modernizing Medicine. "We look forward to a bright future of continuing to transform healthcare technology and helping our clients to thrive."

Not only have the companies on the 2019 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared with prior lists. The 2019 Inc. 5000 achieved an astounding three-year average growth of 454 percent and a median rate of 157 percent. The Inc. 5000's aggregate revenue was $237.7 billion in 2018, accounting for 1,216,308 jobs over the past three years.

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

About Modernizing Medicine

Modernizing Medicine® and its affiliated companies empower physicians with suites of mobile, specialty-specific solutions that transform how healthcare information is created, consumed and utilized to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Built for value-based healthcare, Modernizing Medicine's data-driven, touch- and cloud-based products and services are programmed by a team that includes practicing physicians to meet the unique needs of dermatology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pain management, plastic surgery and urology practices, as well as ambulatory surgery centers. For more information, please visit www.modmed.com. Connect with Modernizing Medicine on our Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

More about Inc. and the Inc. 5000


The 2019 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2015 and 2018. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2015. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2018. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2015 is $100,000; the minimum for 2018 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc. 's September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

About Inc. Media

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today's innovative company builders. Inc. took home the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012. The total monthly audience reach for the brand has been growing significantly, from 2,000,000 in 2010 to more than 20,000,000 today. For more information, visit www.inc.com.

The Inc. 5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates the remarkable achievements of these companies. The event also offers informative workshops, celebrated keynote speakers, and evening functions.

For more information on Inc. and the Inc. 5000 Conference, visit http://conference.inc.com/.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190815005569/en/

CONTACT: Modernizing Medicine

Lesley Weisenbacher



www.modmed.com Matter for Modernizing Medicine

Jessica Wolter






SOURCE: Modernizing Medicine

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 08/15/2019 01:23 PM/DISC: 08/15/2019 01:23 PM


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