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91% of consumers are likely to engage with ads alongside coronavirus content on premium sites, and other publisher insights

A new report from Integral Ad Science states that 9 out of 10 people are likely to engage with ads alongside coronavirus content if they’re on premium sites. Also, according to the report, consumers prefer to see ads alongside positive news content.

The Coronavirus Ad Adjacency report is based on two online surveys of over 500 users each, in the US and the UK. The surveys sought to understand consumer perceptions around coronavirus content. 

The findings of this study can allay fears of advertisers who have been avoiding placing ads next to coronavirus content. This has led to considerable losses in revenue for publishers. 

“We’re seeing 34M people read our journalism every day”

Newspaper trade group Newsworks estimates that news publishers in the UK could lose £50 million ($62 million) in revenue to blunt coronavirus-related ad blocking if the pandemic lasts until the end of June. 

Industry trade bodies like the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK), the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (Isba) have come together to urge brands to reassess their brand safety measures. 

Tracy De Groose, chief executive of Newsworks, is leading a ‘Back, Not Block’ campaign in which UK newspapers have joined forces to encourage brand spend during this crisis, reports The Drum.

Publishers are writing about the one story that everyone wants to hear, in the UK we’re seeing 34M people read our journalism every day and yet so much inventory is blocked because coronavirus-related terms are on brands’ blacklists. Go figure – that doesn’t make sense

Tracy De Groose, Chief Executive, Newsworks

“It’s fine for brands to be near coronavirus content”

The “doesn’t make sense” bit becomes even more pronounced in the light of findings from the IAS report. Among other responses, 63% said that their sentiments towards a brand won’t change if it appeared next to coronavirus content.

Sentiment is key with UK consumers, who prefer to see ads alongside positive news content.

IAS’ Coronavirus Ad Adjacency report

The study also identified verticals that consumers do want to see alongside coronavirus content. These include Healthcare, Government, Not-for-profit, Education, and Food and Beverage.

However, the sentiment of the coronavirus content matters. It was found that consumers are more receptive to advertisements that appear alongside positive coverage.

Additionally, positive headlines were seen to generate the most favorable responses from consumers.

27% increase in consumers actively seeking out news in general

Moreover, the majority of respondents expressed preference for informative ads. These include: 

  • Ads with tips for dealing with the crisis (like washing hands) 
  • How a product/service can help during coronavirus/quarantine 
  • What a brand is doing to help the public in this evolving situation

The study was conducted in two waves, the first in March, and a followup in April. In less than a month’s time, researchers saw a 12% increase in consumers seeking out coronavirus content online, and a 27% increase in consumers actively seeking out news more generally. 

“As most of the world continues to adapt to the evolving coronavirus situation, consumers are relying on prominent news sources to stay up to date,” says Tony Marlow, CMO, Integral Ad Science. 

“With the increase in engaged online audiences, there are opportunities for both brands and publishers to reach consumers with suitable content and messages during this challenging time.”

“Unique opportunity for brands”

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers adds, “the combination of the lower cost of ads and the fact that users are spending more time on social presents a unique opportunity for brands to increase their reach and engagement at a lower cost.”

Ben-Itzhak is optimistic, for according to Socialbakers’ Social Media Trends Report for Q1 2020, regions that have been able to contain the spread of the virus are seeing resumption in business. 

The report observed a 32.3% increase in ad spend in the first three weeks of April, compared to where it stood amid the pandemic at the end of March. 

The ad spend increased by 47.3% in Northern America, 41.6% in Latin America, and 35.7% in Southeast Asia. 

Moreover, East Asia’s paid advertising figures returned to their pre-pandemic levels. The researchers expect other regions to similarly bounce back after they have got the pandemic under control. 

“While it’s far too early to say that COVID-19 is behind us,” the authors write, “it’s been largely contained in many areas and worldwide there’s a confidence that things will return to something close to normal.”

Both reports can be downloaded from the links below