Brand safety and programmatic buying

We all love YouTube. There’s no other way we’d prefer to spend our evenings than watching hilarious cat videos (Here’s one for you later). And while there is a plethora of light and fluffy clips scattered across the platform, there is a dark side to YouTube.

A few blogs ago we spoke about programmatic buying and why your brand should invest in it. And while advertisers have the choice to blacklist a website or choose from exclusive whitelists, it has emerged that brands have decided to completely cease advertising activity on YouTube.

This was due to businesses discovering their programmatically placed advertisements were being placed next to hate-speech and extremist content. Not only does this placement damage the brand in terms of affiliation with extremism, it is funding the cause by providing revenue through ads being served. Not a good look for any brand!

This motion started in the UK, with large corporations such as McDonalds, Toyota, UK Government and Volkswagen pulling their spend with Google. This trend quickly spread to the US and Australia, going global within a few short days.

Example of a ‘The Guardian’ ad placed against a hate-speech video [Source – The London Times]

This global boycott has been estimated to cost Google’s parent company $US750 million, however this figure may hardly make a dent on Alphabet’s estimated $US73 billion revenue in 2017.

While media coverage has decreased, people are still searching for information, the threat of their brand safety being compromised still exists.

Google Trend Data on ‘YouTube Boycott’

Google has made several attempts to maintain damage control by introducing new policies and testing new technologies throughout the ad process. These include:

  • Expanding the controls of advertisers
  • Ads no longer shown on channels with <10k views
  • Implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • New escalation paths to make it easier for issues to be raised

With 400 minutes of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt admitted that brand safety cannot be guaranteed on their ad network, but they can ‘get it pretty close’.

If you’re thinking about buying programmatically placed advertisements and want to know more about how your brand’s safety can be protected just drop us a line!

Best wishes,
Shea, Alana, and the team