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As a result of the enormous volume of digital content available to consume on platforms too numerous to count, sensory overload is bound to occur. While the plethora of short-form digital content that is at our fingertips plays into the fact that adult attention spans have dwindled to a mere eight seconds, the deep reflection and conversations that are necessary to better our country, community and workplace, must be rooted in informative, trustworthy communication sources.
To efficiently cut through the buzz of information, consumers are looking to media sources to mitigate anxiety and provide clarity through timely, relevant information. In May of last year, Kantar Media released a study that highlighted how brands and advertisers alike can succeed in a world overwhelmed with media sources, and in turn, content and information. What they found was that newspapers possessed overwhelmingly positive consumer trust. On the flipside, social media platforms possessed overwhelmingly negative consumer trust. Falling into what we’ll call the “average trust” range, came radio programs, company websites and tv programs.
Kantar revealed that across seven of eight media markets surveyed, the news organization (as an entity) publishing a story was a greater source of trust for consumers than either the journalist writing it or the person sharing it. As the dynamic state of the world becomes increasingly complex, long-form newspaper content informs, educates and entertains citizens in a manner unlike any other medium.
In addition to the shift from short-form communication to long-form print communication, this past year has also seen a shift away from advertising near content that can be perceived as “bad” or “negative”. However, the execution of such a plan has not yielded consistently positive results. While we work to find ways to reinvent ourselves and our businesses in times of crisis, keeping things simple and embracing or re-embracing methodologies that have withstood the test of time can be the most creative way to endure setbacks and emerge stronger.
A challenge for any marketer is determining which platform makes the most sense for your organization to advertise on in order to reach the largest audience while simultaneously legitimizing the company’s mission. While acknowledging the fact that brand placement is of great import, some marketers over the course of the past several months have championed keyword blocking and in turn, have limited their platform options and in turn, limited their audience.
By definition, keyword blocking is the practice of preventing ads from appearing next to content containing specific words. Why would an advertiser adopt such a principle? To ensure that the integrity of their brand remains intact. In order to avoid their brand’s name or image from appearing alongside content that is either unsafe, upsetting, not family-friendly or simply associated with negative feelings or connotations, keyword blocking has been employed in earnest. In addition to the pandemic, social and political happenings have brought about a great deal of bleak content that circulates on the internet and on advertising mediums such as social media sites.
On the surface keyword blocking can appear to be an effective, proactive branding strategy. However, it frequently limits the ability of an organization to connect with consumers. Excessive keyword blocking and the crippling fear of “unsafe” keywords can cause businesses to miss out on valuable brand safe placements. In September of 2020, Google’s marketing team acknowledged that it had been “too restrictive” in including “coronavirus” on its list of blocked keywords during the start of the pandemic. As a result, Google has pledged $100M in marketing dollars to news organizations in order to mitigate the negative financial blow in caused to publications’ coverage of the pandemic. Such a commitment speaks to the search giant’s belief that news sources and news publications are a trusted medium wholly invested in sharing the facts of current events with consumers.
For organizations considering a branding campaign, especially those who have made positive organizational transformations as a result of COVID, partnering with a trusted news source like the Times Union magnifies the impact of the message being put forth. The Times Union and timesunion.com are the Capital Region’s top newspaper and top online news source, respectively. As timesunion.com is the digital home of the Times Union, the website is an equally trusted news source.
People are hypervigilant now and largely driven by emotions. As marketers, doing our due diligence to position our partners’ near relevant, trustworthy content is our top priority. While branding has always been a delicate business, authentically advertising on appropriate mediums with powerful messaging is a winning combination.