The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the global economy, leaving most industries reeling. Publishers, too, have been hit, with ad revenues stagnating or declining as advertisers hit pause on campaigns.
On 17 April 2020, the sector received some respite with Google announcing a five-month waiver of ad serving fees on Ad Manager for news publishers. Globally, many news publishers use GAM to serve ads to their readers. The integrated platform allows publishers to manage their ads, get detailed insights and increase revenues.
However, despite increase in traffic amidst the pandemic lockdown, news organizations have been struggling to keep their business afloat. While some advertisers have cut down on ad spends, others are choosing not to display ads on pages with coronavirus related content, fearing negative brand association.
In an official blog post, Jason Washing, Managing Director, Global Partnerships – News at Google, explained the criticality of supporting news platforms during this unprecedented time.
“During times of global crisis, people rely on quality journalism to stay informed and safe. And the ads that appear alongside news coverage help fund the journalists who write breaking news stories, and keep news sites and apps running.”
News partners who qualify for the fee waiver will be contacted by Google over the coming days and more details of the requirement criteria will be disclosed. The fee will be waived starting April and the difference will be adjusted in future account statements. It is expected that more than 500 publishers will be eligible for free ad serving under this initiative.
The move is an extension of Google News Initiatives’ Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, a program set up to deliver aid to small news publishers by reducing cost of business and funding journalism. As part of its relief efforts, Google has announced that it will offer grants ranging between thousands and tens of thousands of dollars to small and large newsrooms to help them tide over the slump. Applications for support from the Journalism Emergency Relief Fund are open till 29 April.
To counter the spread of misinformation as stories around coronavirus evolve, Google has also committed $6.5 million to fact-checking and curbing fake news.
Google is not the only tech giant standing up in support of publishers. Last month, Facebook had announced that it will donate $100 million to news organizations affected by the coronavirus downturn. This figure included grants of $25 million and $75 million in increased ad spending on news platforms by Facebook.
Earlier this month, AdPushup published a report on the impact of COVID-19 on publishers, including the key factors driving this decline and how publishers can respond. The report also includes a DIY assessment to help publishers gauge their resilience to this crisis and offers helpful tips on how to offset the revenue decline.