Best of the week: Brands add mainstream news outlets to their blacklists

This week, our top stories covered changes to brands’ blacklists, Snapchat’s Official Stories expansion and more. As always, a full list of these articles appears at the bottom.

Brands blacklist mainstream news outlets
Brands blacklisting spoofed domains and problematic sites like Breitbart is nothing new. But now, they’re preventing their ads from appearing on any news sites as some brands perceive mainstream news outlets as too controversial in this political climate. Fox News was the only mainstream news site sources said was specifically blocked in their programmatic buys by certain clients.

One campaign manager at a holding group media agency said a major automaker stopped serving ads last month in the news category, which contains hundreds of publishers including, in case the content didn’t align with the brand’s values.

“[It’s] a pretty political move for a brand to publicly reject a publisher,” said Eric Bader, managing director of consulting firm Volando, “but the calculation is likely to be ‘better safe than sorry.’”

Snapchat’s drinking problem
Alcohol brands say they hesitate to advertise on Snapchat. The concerns: The app can’t verify ads are only served to people 21 and older, and it has an overwhelming number of younger users.

As of 2013, new Snapchatters must enter their birthdays when creating Snapchat accounts, which means brands can limit ads to people 21 and older. Those users can still send Snaps with sponsored geofilters or lenses to underage friends, though. The issue: There’s no way to verify the recipient’s age.

Brands seem to prefer advertising on Instagram, which has more stringent age-gating and doesn’t skew younger — and has other benefits like a larger active user base and more discoverability.

“Ultimately, here’s a platform [Snapchat] that is clearly a favorite of underage individuals,” said Dave Karraker, vp of marketing at Campari. “Why would you focus your efforts over there when I can just go to Instagram, which now has Stories?”

In other Snapchat news…
The platform is extending its Official Stories feature — similar to Instagram’s and Twitter’s verified accounts — to influencers. From their launch in 2015 until now, Official Stories accounts were mostly reserved for celebrities.

Snap’s email to an influencer who goes by CyreneQ about setting up an Official Stories account

It might be too late for Snapchat to win over content creators after initially taking a hands-off approach with them. “At this point, [social stars] have begun moving on,” said Marco Hansell, founder and CEO of influencer marketing platform Speakr. “With the amount of monetization opportunities and the relationships that the Facebook and Instagram ecosystem is creating, it’s hard [for Snap] to compete.”

Stat of the week
In the past two weeks, the number of engagements (likes, comments and shares) per 1,000 fans for women-focused publisher Babe — which is focusing on serialized and episodic video — was more than 10 times the average number of engagements among 11 competitors, including Bustle, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Teen Vogue and Seventeen, combined.

Quote of the week
An exec from a publisher using nonprofit ad exchange TrustX weighs in on its first three months:

“It is a grandiose idea that doesn’t have the support it needs to become the grandiose solution it wants to be. If I looked at this like any other exchange, I would have dumped them already.”

Interesting takes elsewhere:

This week’s top Digiday stories:

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