Political outlets form nonpartisan ad alliance to win dollars back from Google and Facebook

Publisher across political spectrum form ad alliance

A group of publishers is putting politics aside to woo advertisers away from Google and Facebook.

Left-leaning Raw Story and AlterNet, right-leaning Washington Free Beacon and The Daily Caller, and centrist sites Mediaite and Law & Crime have come together to form The Digital News Alliance.

“Advertisers who want real relationships with politically-engaged donors need thoughtful, custom campaigns to attract those who’ve tuned out ads from the massive tech platforms,” said John Byrne, chief executive officer of Raw Story and AlterNet. “The Digital News Alliance can deliver campaigns at scale, without funding these tech giants that aided efforts to suppress voter turnout and mislead consumers.”

According to eMarketer, about 60% of digital ad spend in the US goes through Google and Facebook. Both internet giants went through fake news clampdowns following the 2016 US election.

The two companies have since taken measures to safeguard elections across the globe. Google banned political ads ahead of Canada's recent national election, and Facebook has begun authenticating political advertisers in the UK.

Andrew Eisbrouch, chief operating officer of Abrams Media, which owns Mediaite and Law & Crime, told The Drum that the ad packages will include a mix of traditional display units, custom opportunities, video, newsletters, skins and social.

The Daily caller and the Washington Free Beacon are independently owned. Raw Story bought AlterNet in April, 2018.

As for ad revenue share among the political-news sites, Eisbrouch said: "Each member is an equal partner with the exact same terms."

In a press release, Eisbrouch stated: “We are very excited to begin this unprecedented partnership. At a time when both parties in Washington can’t get along, we’ve found a way for sites of sometimes differing political ideologies to do important business together."

The Digital News Alliance said it expects other publishers to join the initial launch group.

“This alliance will help fortify digital journalism’s position in challenging market conditions and will bolster our continuing efforts to provide high-quality investigative reporting to our readers,” said Aaron Harison, president of the Washington Free Beacon.

The Digital News Alliance made the launch announcement Thursday through The Wall Street Journal. Eisbrouch told The Drum that the group wanted to wait until the formal launch announcement to reach out to any ad partners.

According to a report from GroupM, political ad spend for the 2020 US election cycle is expected to hit $9.9bn, with $2.8bn of the sum spent on digital properties.

“America is changing at an incredible pace and growing more polarized in the process. The Digital News Alliance cuts against the polarization and in so doing gives advertisers a way to reach the most politically engaged audiences with a balanced ad buy,” said Neil Patel, co-founder and publisher of The Daily Caller.

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