Google, Twitter Lift Coronavirus Ad Ban; Facebook Offers Grants To SMBs

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Google and Twitter lifted their bans on coronavirus-related advertising. Twitter will allow marketers to feature their pandemic responses in paid tweets, Ad Age reports. Twitter initially banned COVID terms to forestall misinformation, but now feels that “the messaging that brands and businesses can provide to the world … are going to be positively received,” according to head of client solutions Sarah Personette. Google backtracked on its coronavirus advertising ban after backlash from Democrats, who argued that blocking criticism of President Trump’s response to the epidemic would give him a leg up in the election. Google and Twitter are both phasing in advertisers that will be allowed to build “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” campaigns. A blanket un-ban of those terms could end up boosting scam products and fake cures.

Facebook Stimulus

Call it the Facebook CARES Act. Facebook is planning to dole out $40 million in grants to 10,000 US-based small businesses. SMBs are reeling from the coronavirus outbreak. The companies will span 34 cities, but the hardest hit in New York City and Seattle will be the first to receive funds, which should start happening this week. Most of the grants will be distributed in cash with ad credits mixed in. But Facebook’s concern for the SMB community is about more than just altruism. SMBs make up a huge portion of Facebook’s overall base of roughly 8 million paid advertisers. If the little guys go under, the platforms are gonna feel it, too. Forbes has more.

Content Wreck-ommendation

The Justice Department has been interviewing clients and rivals of Taboola and Outbrain as part of a review of the content recommendation companies’ merger deal from last year, The Wall Street Journal reports. The key to whether or not the DOJ opposes Taboola’s takeover of Outbrain is if regulators decide the combined company actually competes with the likes of Google and Facebook. That would make the merger look relatively benign. Some ad execs have said that a deal between Taboola and Outbrain would lower the revenue guarantees both companies offer publishers, because they wouldn’t be nipping at their own heels. The review has been delayed by months, since staffers and respondents are stuck at home.

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