Vice urges advertisers to rethink 'flawed' keyword blacklists

By AdNews | 14 October 2018

Youth media giant Vice has urged advertisers to reconsider brand safety keyword blacklists that prevents ads from appearing alongside articles that use terms such as ‘gay’, ‘rape’, ‘killing’ and ‘transgender’.

Vice said the use of keyword blacklists has reached an all-time high is locking out newsworthy content that tackles issues including race, religion and LGBTQIA.

Vice analyses its own keyword infractions over the past 18 months to find out which terms appear the most in its own content.

The term ‘gay’ is one of the most flagged keywords; placing higher on the list than ‘rape’, ‘death’, ‘heroin’, and ‘gun’.

Other LGBTQIA descriptors including ‘transgender’ and ‘bisexual’ placed higher on the list than ‘shooting’, ‘porn’, ‘killing’, ‘drugs’, and ‘war’.

Heritage and race terms including ‘Asian’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘interracial’ landed top spots on the list.

“Vice’s storytelling lends itself to the most diverse generations in history. Our content aims to accurately represent these young people while simultaneously promoting diversity and inclusion,” said Dominique Delport, Vice global chief revenue officer and president of international. 

“Unfortunately, the improper use of keyword blacklists is counterproductive to this mission, resulting in unintended consequences. We hope more brands will join in this discussion and help set a new industry standard.”

Rather than assigning brand safety risk through keywords, Vice is feeding its content through the Oracle Data Cloud’s Contexual Intelligence platform to analyse subjects and themes.

Based on a detailed analysis of the content, Oracle Data Cloud assigns a brand safety score. Brands then have the option to allow or block their advertising from running alongside video based on the specific score for that content.

Brand safety on digital platforms has been a hot topic for marketers after a series of high-profile brand safety scandals erupted on YouTube in recent years.

This included controversial posts from popular YouTubers PewDiePie and Logan Paul, whose channels were ad-funded and placed on Google Preferred.

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