Healthline will block all political and issue-based ads from its websites leading up to the 2020 election.
David Kopp, CEO of Healthline, said he was concerned about the accuracy of many political ads and the user experience of these ads.
“A lot of effort goes into creating the best health content on the web,” he explained. “We were concerned about the juxtaposition of our evidence-based content with a lot of candidate and issue-based ads we’ve seen and the accuracy of those ads.”
The company began blocking the ads last month, as political advertising began ramping up ahead of the first primaries in February.
Kopp said Healthline readers turn to the website for factual health information and having a political ad on the same page could disrupt their experience. Blocking these ads ensures that users only see ads that are relevant.
“If we’re doing our job right, the ads that support our content are actually valuable to our readers,” Kopp said. “If it’s chronic conditional content, they will see an ad for a product or treatment for that specific condition. If they are looking at cold and flu content, they might see an ad for a retailer that sells cold and flu medicine. That supports our mission of trying to be an ally to our users.”
All Healthline Media properties will block political ads, including Healthline.com, Greatist.com and MedicalNewsToday.com.
But the ad blockade doesn’t mean Healthline will ignore politics completely. The website will instead have a series of articles about the election, covering topics like candidates’ stances on healthcare issues, like Medicare for All, and breaking down some healthcare legislation. That series will begin on Super Tuesday, March 3, and continue through to Election Day in November.
“We don’t feel like our audience wants us to be political and that our brand should be political,” Kopp said. “We’ve tried to focus on topics that should be part of the political discourse and content that helps people make better fact-based decision. We have historically reviewed legislation and broken it down to help readers understand what it means. This is often missing in political news coverage that talks about the politics and candidate positioning, but doesn’t get into the specifics of what it means for individuals.”