From Rupert Murdoch’s News UK to McClatchy’s chain of local newspapers across the United States, news publishers are attracting record numbers of readers as people in lockdown seek information about the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet advertising revenue has plummeted for many publishers as companies slash marketing budgets and prove reluctant to buy ads against coronavirus coverage for fear of tarnishing their brand.
Forecasts for global advertising growth this year have been revised down by $20 billion since March 12, according to market research firm eMarketer. It estimates ad spending growth of just 8.4% in China, where the outbreak began, the slowest since 2011.
Total local advertising in the United States could decline by up to 30% this year, or $38 billion, according to media research firm Borrell Associates.
Publishers, advertising agencies and tech firms that help place ads have been trying to persuade brands to rethink, arguing that by eschewing coronavirus coverage, advertisers are losing access to engaged readers.
So far, they appear to have had limited success.
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