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Digiday Research: Coronavirus-related keyword blocking is a problem for 43% of all publishers

Coronavirus- related keyword blocking has become a problem for 43% of publishers, according to a new Digiday survey of 127 publishing execs undertaken this month.

The survey found that a quarter of publishers said it had not been a problem for them.

Keyword blocking has been an issue for publishers ever since the coronavirus outbreak began. Even as many publishers have seen site-traffic grow, advertisers have been quick to add virus-related words to keyword blocklists, the idea being that this will avoid any fallout from their ads coming alongside articles about the virus, deaths and other issues.


Meanwhile, a previous survey found that 40% of brands are not advertising next to coronavirus-related news online, up slightly from the same survey conducted a month ago, when 37% said they will not buy ads alongside coronavirus-related content.

As our research has found, publisher revenues took a major hit in the first quarter, but publishers expect things to get worse in the second quarter. Only 2% of raised forecasts, 17% have kept them flat, and the vast majority — 80% — have lowered forecasts.

Our survey found that for 80% of publishers, traffic is up. For almost a quarter, it’s up more than 50% from pre-pandemic levels. 

Among business lines, ad revenue was hardest hit in the first quarter, decreasing for a whopping 65% of all publishers. This included direct sold and programmatic ad revenue.

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