Local Media Consortium and Brand Safety Institute Create Media Buying “Local News Advertising Whitelist” to Unlock Local News Media Advertising Inventory During Crises

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The Local Media Consortium (LMC), in partnership with the Brand Safety Institute and Scott Cunningham, consultant and Founder of the IAB Tech Lab, today announced the creation of a media-buying “Local News Advertising Whitelist” that opens up thousands of vetted local media advertising opportunities for national brands and companies during times of crises, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic generates heightened media consumption.

“The LMC’s Local News Advertising Whitelist is launching at a time when local media companies are working overtime to deliver impactful life-saving news to their audiences, stretching resources to the limits,” said Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium. “Now, more than ever, local media organizations need the revenue generated by advertising from national brands and companies so they can focus on delivering vital reporting on a daily basis.”

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Local news outlets have traditionally been viewed as strong channels for advertisers. But media-buying keyword “blacklists” created to counter fear that programmatic ad buying would place an ad next to inappropriate or controversial content often results in local media outlets being excluded from national media buying opportunities. It’s become easier for advertisers to use brute force keyword techniques to prevent negative ad adjacencies or content associations rather than taking a more nuanced approach to consider the source and context in reaching valuable audiences. As a result, the digital advertising ecosystem is forgoing a trusted channel that plays a vital role in society.

“The Brand Safety Institute is committed to protecting brands and news readers from inappropriate ad placement, particularly during an ongoing national crisis,” said Mike Zaneis, Co-Founder of the Brand Safety Institute and CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group. “But automatically blacklisting ad placements within reputable local media platforms isn’t the solution. The Local News Advertising Whitelist allows advertisers with timely messages an opportunity to reach a highly engaged and untapped audience while still providing safeguards.”

Featuring more than 3,000 vetted news media domains by geography across the United States from the LMC’s membership of 90 local media organizations, the Local Media Advertising Whitelist is free to use by advertisers. The list is available to credible sources upon request for permission at LocalNewsWhitelist or by sending an email to newswhitelist@localmediaconsortium.com.

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“The advertising industry is increasingly recognizing the unintended consequences of blacklisting on programmatic ad buying and is receptive to more finely tuned solutions,” said Scott Cunningham, a former news and technology executive, and author of the “Defining Brand Safety” series by the Brand Safety Institute. “I have covered 9/11, wildfires and was embedded with FEMA during Hurricane Katrina. The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed journalism resources in local communities and acted as a catalyzing event to accelerate the conversation within the advertising industry on this topic. The Local News Advertising Whitelist is designed to practically make available a vital and useful advertising channel being marginalized due to insufficient effort and tools.”

The Local News Advertising Whitelist is available today and includes trusted domains of credible local media companies such as Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps, McClatchy, Nexstar Media, Gannett, Media News Group, A.H. Belo, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Los Angeles Times, Grey Television, Tribune Publishing, Seattle Times and Lee Enterprises.

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