If you’re in the news media game, you know that advertising revenue is where the money comes rolling in from. Advertising is expensive, so if a company makes the decision to advertise, they have to make the smartest choices that will get them the most bang for their buck. You wouldn’t want to advertise on a tiny news site no one ever heard of. So, of course you choose the big ones – big ones like the disgusting alt-right news hawk Breitbart or Fox News’ primetime shows.
However, when a publisher that sells its advertising space becomes unpopular in the public eye, it’s normal for advertisers to pull ads. A really great example is the mass exodus of advertisers who are pulling advertising during The O’Reilly Factor. Due to the allegations that Bill O’Reilly has been harassing women for years, advertisers are answering the calls to pull commercials.
With that being said, it looks like the extremist right-wing news rag Breitbart will be suffering the same treatment. Buzzfeed reported:
‘On March 22, a group of Amazon employees took issue with the company’s ads on Breitbart in an email to CEO Jeff Bezos and SVP Jeff Blackburn. Entitled “Amazon Must Stop Advertising on Breitbart News,” the email included a petition opposing Amazon’s continued advertising on Breitbart, with some 564 signatures.’
When employees met with Bezos, he was asked what it would take to get them to stop advertising on Breitbart. Blackburn responded somewhat hesitantly trying to explain that Amazon doesn’t directly choose to advertise on Breitbart, and that’s handled by a third-party.
‘It’s making those decisions for us through a third party, industry standard filter that we use. And that’s what you’re seeing. Some of the pages on the site that you mentioned are passing through those filters.’
What he says does have merit. They do use a third-party company. Most major companies do. Just like many publishers go through third parties to sell advertising space. However, publishers are able to control what goes in their advertising slots. If they don’t like it, they can usually contact the advertisement company or they may can ban a certain topic or brand from being shown on their pages within their account themselves.
For example, Google AdSense allows you to block specific URLs, general categories, sensitive categories, and ad networks from showing on your own website.
The same goes for the company wanting to advertise their product. Google AdWords, the place you go to begin an advertising campaign for your own product, allows you to exclude your ads from being shown on pages based on a specific topic, specific IP addresses, specific webpages and apps, and site category options and content exclusions.
If Google AdWords can offer that to their customers, any third party advertising network can do the same for their customer, especially for one as large as Amazon. Basically, at any time, Amazon’s marketing department could call up their advertising networks and say, “Hey, pull the ads from Breitbart. They are hateful, and that’s not cool.” It’s all based on if they want to lose that potential audience.
Several employees wrote personal messages to Blackburn and Bezos describing why they should pull advertising from Breitbart. One included:
‘I am a woman, immigrant, person of color. My employer needs to stand up to this site which is nothing but full of hate.’
‘As a transgender woman, I find it deeply troubling that my employer has not yet pulled advertising from this site.’
Another employee used a Breitbart headline as a justification as to why advertising should be pulled. They wrote:
‘”There’s no hiring bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews” – the fact that the company’s dollars pay for headlines like this make it very difficult for those of us putting in efforts to recruit and retain more women in technical roles.’
The letter itself was sent on March 22 and went mostly unrecognized. However, several petitions have popped up calling for the same action. One petition on SumOfUs.org gained over 550,000 signatures. The growing outcry has lead to Amazon’s acknowledgement of their employee’s concerns. An employee told Buzzfeed:
‘They are now taking it very seriously. It’s not a finalized decision, but it’s at least moving in the right direction.’
With Donald Trump being elected president, hateful rhetoric has been allowed to spread. True colors have been revealed as they feel safe behind the orange clown curtain that is a Trump presidency. However, as consumers, we still have the power to make an impact by protesting companies who advertise through nefarious channels such as Breitbart.
Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.