Breitbart and the ad tech complex that enables its brand of news
Donald Trump is under fire for appointing Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon to a top White House role, with many citing racist, sexist and anti-Semitic posts on Breitbart. But advertisers, thanks to programmatic ad systems, appear regularly on sites like Breitbart.
Programmatic ads are bought and sold by machine at massive scale, often based on audience targeting rather than site environment. One result is that brands’ ads can show up on inflammatory sites without their knowledge, despite safeguards they have in place. Google AdSense serves ads on millions of publisher sites, and among them is Breitbart. On a recent visit, ads from major consumer brands including Target, State Farm and CB2 were among those spotted in Google ads. State Farm said the ad was part of a small buy and that the site been blocked from its rotation list of sites. The others haven’t responded to requests for comment yet.
Google and Facebook said they would start prohibiting its ads from being placed on misrepresentative content. Google policy already says publishers may not place its AdSense code on pages that violate its content policy that prohibits, among other things, placing ads on pages whose content advocates against a group, individual or organization.
That apparently doesn’t include Breitbart stories like “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” The browser extension Ghostery lists 33 ad, site analytics and other trackers collecting information on Breitbart, including PubMatic, Rubicon and AOL’s Advertising.com. PubMatic declined to comment. We’ve asked others for comment; we’ll update this if they respond.
Breitbart also is littered with multiple content recommendation modules from Taboola and ZergNet. Taboola puts its ad widget on publisher’s sites and when readers click on paid links in the widget, Taboola shares revenue from the link providers with the host publisher.
Taboola CEO Adam Singolda said that the company’s guidelines prohibit it from working with publishers that post hate speech and racism and it’s now looking into the matter. While the company posts its guidelines for what content can go in the widget, he said it doesn’t publicize its publisher guidelines or comment about whether it’s reviewing any publisher site for compliance with those guidelines.
Reggie Renner, co-founder and CEO of ZergNet, said that ZergNet doesn’t make money off Breitbart. He said that Breitbart participates in ZergNet’s free audience development platform where publishers can share links with other sites of their choosing.
As for Breitbart’s inclusion in the network, Renner punted responsibility to the publishers, saying, “If sites are offended by other sites, they can simply choose to not work with them. In order to operate such a large network, we need to give some of the quality control over to the publishers to decide.”
‘Qualify the context’: Publishers see success with podcasts created to deepen coronavirus crisis coverage
Publishers expanded COVID-19 coverage with products like podcasts as audiences flocked to pandemic-related content.
‘We need to see ourselves as a media business’: AC Milan’s endgame for content
Italian football club AC Milan has joined the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona F.C and Bayern Munich in owning its production arm.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: ‘I literally didn’t sleep last night’: Publishers share their concerns about the future of data
Publishing execs today face big questions about how to value their audiences and who holds the keys to that value.
SponsoredShoppable content is reshaping brand and publisher relationships
In recent years, brands and publishers have adopted affiliate marketing as an increasingly established method to audiences. However, what may seem to be a mutually beneficial arrangement between brands and affiliates on closer scrutiny reveals itself as a solution that comes with challenges. Meanwhile, the emergence of content commerce is opening different approaches to matching […]
California’s privacy law has had ‘no impact’ on ad revenues or inventory, but indirect effects could hurt
Publishers, ad tech firms and ad agencies say they felt a bigger hit from opt-ins in Europe than from opt-outs in California.
‘Isolated and voiceless’: Burnt out young workers are turning to tech for mental health support
Gen Z workers think robots are more helpful than humans for mental health support — a factor that hints at deeper work-culture issues.