Verizon Media is giving away $10 million in digital ad inventory to groups responding to the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on mental health.
The donation is earmarked for five mental health partners that aim to support high-risk populations affected by the outbreak, including LGBTQ youth, hourly wage workers and families struggling with mental health disorders, according to Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan. The company also is opening ad inventory to COVID-19 response efforts for the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Verizon Media, whose brands include Yahoo, AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch, and Engadget, joins other internet players doling out advertising inventory amid the coronavirus pandemic including Google, Facebook and TikTok.
Gowrappan told Variety that mental health “has always been an internal priority for Verizon Media, well before the pandemic.”
“A lot of donations that companies are making are focused on small businesses and front-line workers — and rightly so,” he said. “But mental health organizations are getting significant requests for their services during this pandemic… By bringing this topic to the forefront of conversation, we’re hoping to normalize and break down any stigmas around mental health.”
The donation by Verizon Media comes as digital-ad spending — like many sectors of the economy — is expected to fall sharply: For March and April, that is projected to be down 38%, per trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
On another front, Verizon Media is launching a new vertical, Yahoo Life (life.yahoo.com), dedicated to wellness. Content on the site will cover mental health, fitness and parenting topics, as well as tips from experts on how to stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. “The COVID-19 outbreak was the trigger for us to fast-track the site launch,” Gowrappan said. “We want to provide a trusted resource that delivers wellbeing education, news and tips.”
The five mental-health orgs Verizon Media is working with are the Child Mind Institute; Crisis Text Line; Empower Work; Mental Health Foundation; and the Trevor Project, which provides crisis and suicide intervention services to young LGBTQ people. In addition to donating ad inventory, Verizon Media also is providing staff and creative resources to help the organizations create the ads.
The resulting campaigns will span display, video and native ad formats and run across the entirety of Verizon Media’s footprint, including owned-and-operated properties like Yahoo, HuffPost and TechCrunch, as well as third-party sites.
Among Verizon Media’s other initiatives during the pandemic, the company launched a COVID-19 hub across the Yahoo ecosystem. To date, that has generated more than 2 billion page views and 1 billion video streams. The company also is working with the White House, the Ad Council and others on various COVID-related initiatives, Gowrappan said.