It’s been 20 months since the Times of London story that named brands appearing next to extremism videos ignited concern in the industry, causing some advertisers to stop buying YouTube ads and spurring the platform to take action. The piece set off a flurry of focus on brand-safety concerns on YouTube, ranging from ads next to everything from extremism to violence to child abuse.
For GroupM, the world’s largest ad buyer, YouTube has made “a lot of progress” since then, according to GroupM managing partner of brand safety in the Americas Joe Barone, paving the way to whitelisting, for example. The wake-up call of several advertisers pausing spending on the platform got YouTube’s attention. Still, with an estimated 800,000 monetized channels and artificial-intelligence tools still fledgling, YouTube has a ways to go: Barone rated its progress at about 2.5 out of 5 in a talk at the Digiday Media Buying Summit in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
YouTube still doesn’t allow blocking prior to bidding on an ad placement and, critically, will not allow common third-party brand-safety tools to be used, Barone said. That leads back to a common advertiser gripe: You have platforms grading their own homework and saying “trust us.”
“It’s not truly independent,” Barone said. “There’s a laundry list they have from us.”
One bright spot in YouTube’s response to brand-safety concern is its whitelisting capabilities. Chris Davis, chief revenue officer of Cheq, a cybersecurity company, said that while there’s no guarantee of brand safety on YouTube, his company always recommends whitelisting, though he described the process as “incredibly taxing.”
“We do the best we can. Many of our clients are going beyond brand safety and move toward more concerns about social responsibility. The content just has no place in the digital environment. We’re not limiting our concerns to keeping my client away from the bad stuff,” Barone said.
A YouTube spokesperson said the company has been committed to brand safety and directed Digiday to a recent blog post on its accreditations with the Media Rating Council.
“We are fully committed to ensuring third-party measurement for brand safety. In beta tests with DoubleVerify and IAS, we’re seeing 99 percent success rates on brand safety across both auction and reserve, including Google Preferred,” the spokesperson emailed.
While Google works with third-party verification systems, the relationships are not always completely independent, Barone said. GroupM is advocating for Google to adopt an open-source software development kit that would help reduce discrepancies in viewability.
Whitelisting had persuaded clients, who had stopped buying YouTube ads in the wake of the Times of London story, to return to the video platform. However, some of GroupM’s clients decreased their budgets. If they spent 25 percent of their digital budget on YouTube, it might now be 15 percent, Barone said. Part of GroupM’s job is educating clients that with the scale of ad buys in digital media, it is nearly impossible to hit 100 percent on brand safety.
Agencies addressing brand safety comes down to evaluating the risk of each client. At GroupM, the agency categorizes a client’s risk tolerance as low, medium and high. That requires an open conversation between the agency and the client. For example, some clients may say they’re low-risk but changed their mind once they realize how much inventory is lost.
“Low-risk means you’ll have to drop all your Snapchat filters because we can’t control what people do with there,” Barone said. “But [clients] say, ‘Oh we get a lot of engagement from them.’ [We say], ‘OK, then you have more risk tolerance.’”
Why HelloFresh struck an ad deal with StreamElements to reach the gaming community
StreamElements’ plug-and-play interface creates a lighter lift for brands looking to reach the gaming community, eschewing the protracted negotiations and production time that can come along with brand partnerships with prominent individual streamers.
What these latest consumer affinity trends tell us about marketing in 2023
Video views could guide marketers on where consumers will shop after watching content on social networks.
Sam’s Club wants to ‘broaden awareness’ in cinemas with a faux-movie trailer starring Kevin Hart
For the holiday season, Sam's Club has teamed up with Kevin Hart to help launch its ad featuring a movie trailer style and is hoping to connect with moviegoers by boosting brand awareness for the holiday season.
SponsoredPublishers are adapting advertising strategies for a privacy-first world
Tina Iannacchino, senior publisher director, Seedtag So much of the attention around the death of third-party cookies and its impact on the digital advertising industry is focused on the implications for brands and consumers, which is far from the complete picture. The digital publishing industry in the U.S. is massive and set to be shaken […]
Why YouTube’s focus on competing with streamers may have hurt the platform as brands focus on TikTok
As competition continues to heat up in the digital video and content creation space with TikTok, Instagram and the recent addition of social app BeReal, YouTube may be feeling that heat more and more.
Dentsu’s new global gaming lead reflects on gaming strategy ‘void’ in advertising, media
Despite the rapid rise of gaming in recent years — or perhaps because of it — many brands and marketers are still confused about how to best reach the gaming community. Dentsu's new global gaming lead Brent Koning is equipped to navigate these uncertain waters.