Ad Tech Execs Weigh in on Coronavirus Ads, Google and Twitter, and Misinformation
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Authored by Joseph Zappa
Earlier this month, digital ad juggernauts Google and Twitter reversed earlier decisions not to publish ads related to Covid-19. Both companies initially banned ads related to the virus out of fear that malicious and negligent actors would flood their ecosystems with misinformation or seek to make a quick buck on the virus by selling fake tests or boosting prices on essential items.
Yet Google and Twitter caved to pressure from businesses, which need to reach customers as much as ever amid an unprecedented economic downturn, and Democrats, who said the policy would give President Trump too much power to control the narrative on the political response to the virus via earned media.
I turned to a number of ad tech execs for their expert perspectives on the risks and rewards of digital advertising on this extraordinarily high-stakes issue. While expectedly optimistic about the benefits of coronavirus-related messaging for savvy brands, the business leaders diverged on the responsibility and capability of Google and Twitter to monitor the veracity of the content they host. They also made distinct cases for advertising at a time when brand messaging requires extra sensitivity, arguing that both brands and their customers have something to gain if businesses provide accurate information, focus on customers’ needs, and showcase the ways they are adapting in a time of crisis.
Can Google and Twitter be trusted to prevent false content related to Covid-19?
Mike Addonizio, vice president of paid media at omnichannel ad firm Digilant, said Google and Twitter are aware of the harm misinformation can cause on this issue, meaning advertisers can trust that coronavirus-related content will be “closely monitored.”