Video for news will be a ‘continued, enormous gamble’: A Slack town hall with The Week’s Ben Frumin

Ben Frumin, editor-in-chief of, joined the Digiday+ Slack for a town hall on Nov. 16, fielding questions from Digiday staffers and Digiday+ members on topics including brand safety, digital product design and digital video.

We hold Slack town halls every two weeks. In between, we’ll have editorial chats and group discussions on industry topics. Become a member of Digiday+ so you don’t miss out.

Here are excerpts from the conversation with Frumin, lightly edited and condensed.

Advertisers are demanding more brand safety from news publishers
There are certain advertisers that want to avoid controversial news. I do think there’s [been] an uptick in this in the last couple years. But perhaps not as dramatic as some might suspect.

We have ways to actively target certain advertisers away from certain topics they don’t want to be near, but we would never just not cover something of import out of fear of affecting our programmatic ad revenue negatively.

Video for news will remain a puzzle for years to come
In two years, video will be a continued, enormous gamble with no clear payoff for publishers. There is obviously a ton of great video on the internet. But so much of the video created by so many publishers continues to be content that most people would rather just read, but it’s made as a moving picture because of some vague and undefined sense of advertising imperative.

Personalization is promising, but dangerous
I can see that for many publishers who don’t share our mission, it’s a great way to serve their readers and give them more of what they want and like. But for us, personalization is a problem. It’s helpful for Amazon to show me a bunch of kids books after I buy my daughter a few; it would be very unhelpful and antithetical to our mission if The Week served up eight conservative op-eds to a reader because they’d just read a piece criticizing Hillary Clinton. We don’t want to feed into the confirmation bias and bubbles of our readers. We want to pop them.

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