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Target, MTV blocked ads from news mentioning 'George Floyd' and 'protests'
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Last month Target Corp. told a leading online news publisher not to run its ads in stories related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Articles mentioning police-brutality victims such as "Breonna Taylor" and "George Floyd" were off limits, as were those with the word "protests."
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Target and other advertisers that compiled similar "blocklists" say they were respecting the sensitivity of the issue and wanted to avoid the appearance of exploiting tragedies. News publishers say such moves effectively punish media companies for covering important issues, since they earn less money from content where ad-blocking is prevalent.
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Blocklists aren't new: Before this year, many brands already were sidestepping articles with words like "shooting," "bomb," "immigration" or even "Trump," hoping to avoid associations with controversial topics. The ad blocking went to a new level in 2020 — first, as the terms "Covid-19" and "coronavirus" made it onto many blocklists, and more recently with the addition of terms related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It's defunding our journalism at a time when it's imperative for us to be the front lines doing this kind of work," said Paul Wallace, Vice Media's vice president for global revenue products and services. Black Lives Matter coverage was Vice's most popular news in June, yet commanded ad prices 57% lower than news about other topics because so many brands are actively avoiding placing ads in those articles, he said.
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