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Vice Media Advertising

Vice asks industry to rethink blacklists as LGBTQ and important issues are avoided by advertisers


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

October 15, 2018 | 4 min read

Vice has urged the media and advertising industries to keep diversity and inclusivity in mind even as they try to adopt brand safety practices online.


Other LGBTQIA descriptors including ‘transgender’ and ‘bisexual’ also placed higher on the list than ‘shooting’.

As marketers and publishers work harder to ensure their content or ads do not run alongside questionable or unrelated ads or content, a ‘keyword blacklists’ has emerged, which are lengthy lists of specific words and phrases.

According to Vice, the use of this blacklist has reached an all-time high, leading marketers and publishers to steer away from important and necessary subjects including race, religion and LGBTQIA issues.

Leading by example, the American-based digital company investigated its own keyword data infractions over the course of 18 months and found the term ‘gay’ is one of the most flagged keywords, placing higher on the list than words like ‘rape’, ‘death’, ‘heroin’ and ‘gun’.

Other LGBTQIA descriptors including ‘transgender’ and ‘bisexual’ also placed higher on the list than ‘shooting’, ‘porn’, ‘killing’, ‘drugs’ and ‘war’, while heritage and race terms including ‘Asian’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘interracial’ landed top spots on the list.

“Vice’s storytelling lends itself to the most diverse generations in history. Our content aims to accurately represent these young people while simultaneously promoting diversity and inclusion,” said Dominique Delport, global chief revenue officer and president of international at Vice.

“Unfortunately, the improper use of keyword blacklists is counterproductive to this mission, resulting in unintended consequences. We hope more brands will join in this discussion and help set a new industry standard.”

To ensure it promotes inclusiveness throughout all of its content while creating brand safe environments, Vice implemented Oracle Data Cloud’s contextual brand safety solution for video.

After feeding its content through the Oracle Data Cloud’s Contexual Intelligence platform to analyse subjects and themes, rather than assigning brand safety risk through keywords, the platform assigns a brand safety score.

Brands then have the option to allow or block their advertising from running alongside video based on the specific score for that content.

“Oracle Data Cloud’s Contextual Intelligence platform is designed to drive deeper understanding of many forms of content, and we’re excited to debut our Video Context solution with Vice,” said Andrew Smith, head of publisher strategy at Oracle Data Cloud.

“For the first time in market, we are releasing technology that allows for advertising decisioning against in-stream video context, optimizing the environment for pre-roll and mid-roll video advertising. Now in its third year, our collaboration with Vice has always explored new frontiers of our Contextual Intelligence technology, and we’re excited to continue to build on this legacy.”

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