Irony: Check My Ads, once founded by Democrats to undermine conservative news, now struggles to sell ads alongside left-wing Jezebel.

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In an ironic twist, Josh Jackson, co-founder of Check My Ads and Paste Magazine, discovered the double-edged sword of brand safety technology. Originally designed to shield advertisers from associating with extreme content, it’s now leaving vital journalism unfunded.

Brand safety technology employs “negative keywords” – words advertisers want to avoid associating with their brands. However, this approach, akin to a nuclear bomb to kill a fly, has resulted in unexpected consequences. For instance, an advertiser vetoed the use of the term “song,” causing revenue loss for Paste Magazine.

The situation escalated when Check My Ads resurrected Jezebel, a feminist media outlet, in November. Advertisers’ stringent keyword blocklists left the platform struggling to generate revenue. Even essential journalism is now at risk, prompting Jezebel to introduce a subscription option to bridge the funding gap.

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Jackson, once immersed in brand safety concerns, expressed bewilderment at the impact on quality journalism. The very technology designed to protect brands is inadvertently hindering news outlets like Jezebel.

Brand safety tech’s blunt approach, rather than targeted measures, is creating financial challenges for media outlets. The irony is unmistakable – a tool designed to ensure ads avoid controversial content is now undermining the financial viability of essential journalism.


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