NewsGuard in cooperation with IPG Mediabrands UK help brands keep their ads off of COVID-19 misinformation websites while funding credible journalism

London, April 10, 2020 – As misinformation about COVID-19⁠ spreads across the globe advertisers, brands and traders are wrestling with how and where to place programmatic ads  that reach engaged audiences while maintaining brand safety: Brands that avoid placing programmatic ads on COVID-19 content altogether may miss out on pages consumers are highly engaged with while harming the news industry when it is needed most. Brands continuing with COVID-19 placements risk harming their brand by sending ad dollars to dangerous misinformation sources offering false and harmful cures for the virus.

In response, NewsGuard in cooperation with IPG Mediabrands UK have created a solution to help brands keep their advertisements off of misinformation while continuing with ad placements on trusted news sites.  IPG Mediabrands’ UK clients can choose to utilize BrandGuard, a database of NewsGuard’s ratings, which includes “Green” and “Red” ratings for each website, a credibility score, details about each site’s performance on NewsGuard’s nine journalistic criteria, and metadata relevant to advertisers. As a result, advertisers can support trustworthy news websites with programmatic advertising, while keeping their ads off websites that publish COVID-19 hoaxes and other misinformation. 

“NewsGuard helps our clients avoid advertising on websites publishing dangerous misinformation, while allowing us to continue to support trusted news media that are keeping the public informed during these unprecedented times. News is more important than ever right now and we want to ensure our clients are on factual news outlets, helping fund the credible content that the public need,” said Harrison Boys, Media Standards Director, EMEA at MAGNA, IPG Mediabrands’ investment and market intelligence unit.

“Our solution is an additional layer of protection for advertisers that goes beyond the current common practice of creating blacklists of news keywords. Keyword blacklisting alone has denied even the most respected news websites advertising for their pages that cover keyword topics such as ‘COVID-19,’ resulting in an unintended boycott of serious news,” said Steven Brill, NewsGuard co-CEO. “By using BrandGuard to differentiate between generally trustworthy news sites and hoax sites, advertisers can continue to make thoughtful decisions about ad placements on COVID-19 content while supporting serious journalism and remaining confident their ads will not appear on misinformation sites.”

The data set covers all the news and information sites that account for 95% of online engagement in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy and includes flags for specific categories of false news, such as health misinformation, conspiracy theories and hoax stories, enabling advertisers to target their campaign more granularly to avoid certain kinds of unreliable sites.

“Our analysis of news websites has found that bad actors often publish misinformation in order to profit from advertising revenue,” said Anna-Sophie Harling, Managing Director for NewsGuard Europe. “Brands working with IPG have the power to disable this incentive by directing ad spend towards credible news outlets.” 

In March 2020, and with support from the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, NewsGuard announced it was lowering the paywall on its browser extension, which helps users distinguish between credible journalism and misinformation online.

About NewsGuard

NewsGuard was launched in September 2018 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz. The company provides credibility ratings and detailed “Nutrition Labels” for thousands of news and information websites.

NewsGuard rates all the news and information websites that account for 95% of online engagement across the US, UK, Germany, France, and Italy.

NewsGuard rates each site based on nine apolitical criteria of journalistic practice, including whether a site repeatedly publishes false content, whether it regularly corrects or clarifies errors, and whether it avoids deceptive headlines. It awards weighted points for each criterion and sums them up; a score of less than 60 earns a “Red” rating, while 60 and above earns a “Green” rating, which indicates it is generally reliable.

NewsGuard’s ratings and Nutrition Labels can be licensed by internet service providers, browsers, news aggregators, and social media and search platforms in order to make NewsGuard’s information about news websites available to their users. These ratings are made available to consumers through its browser extension, which is available on Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox browsers, and on mobile devices through the Edge mobile browser for iOS and Android devices. For more information, including to download the browser extension and review the ratings process, visit newsguardtech.com/free.


  • Anna-Sophie Harling, Managing Director, Europe, as.harling@newsgardtech.com, 077 337000179
  • Steven Brill, Co-CEO, steven.brill@newsguardtech.com, +1 212-332-6301
  • Gordon Crovitz, Co-CEO, gordon.crovitz@newsguardtech.com, +1 212-332-6407