Rethinking brand safety in a crisis


Brands blocking publisher content related to current events such as the coronavirus or Black Lives Matter are inadvertently harming themselves, says a Verizon Media director, who argues that brands need to rethink their approach to brand safety when there is a crisis.

“We cannot fall into the same patterns time and time again,” said Maximilian Weigel, Managing Director, Germany at Verizon Media during the recent DMEXCO@home conference .

“Many advertisers are still blocking all content related to the coronavirus or, even worse, they’re blocking all news content. Others have already moved into a second phase, where they have adapted their approach and messaging to meet the new reality that COVID is going to be in the news for a long time,” he added.

Ultimately, however, the aim has to be to move advertisers into a third phase “where they accept that good news and bad news are always there, and that a new crisis and hard-hitting topics will always be written about.

“They have to accept the good and the bad and find their own unique way to deliver their messaging in environments that their users are telling them that they trust.”

“The fear of hard news and negative content is irrational”

The alternative, Weigel pointed out, is that journalists are forced to produce only advertiser-friendly content “and that’s not good for anyone”.

In any case, he continued, “the fear of hard news and negative content is probably irrational. Seventy one percent of consumers say seeing advertising near serious or controversial news has zero impact on their feelings towards that brand.”

Add to that a widespread desire for a sense of normality and a bit of feel-good content and it is clear that advertisers’ keyword lists may be hugely counter-productive.

This article first appeared in

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