2017 was an extremely challenging year for Google in relation to the safety & suitability of content & advertising across YouTube. There were numerous examples highlighted throughout the year of a wide variety of content which would be deemed as either unsuitable for publication on the platform at all, or at the very least, inappropriate for monetisation & advertising. As a result, many brands completely halted advertising on YouTube last year.

This clearly had a major impact on one of Google’s largest revenue sources. Consequently, Google then responded with a wide range of measures to increase the safety for brands to advertise on YouTube. This included increasing the sensitivity of automated content monitoring systems, improving the volume of resource available to manually remove content, responding more quickly to concerns raised by users, and providing advertisers with a wider range of tools & recommendations to more effectively target appropriate content to advertise alongside. Many advertisers and agencies, including us here at Reprise Digital, have also employed third party brand safety measures (such as OpenSlate) for some campaigns in order to provide an additional layer of care and security.

Last week, Google announced further significant improvements to the way in which YouTube content is made available for advertising. These updates include:

  • Channels will need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months to be eligible for ads (starting 20th Feb 2018)
  • Channels included in Google Preferred will be manually reviewed and ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet ad-friendly guidelines
  • A 3 tier suitability system that allows advertisers to reflect their view of appropriate placements for their brand, while understanding potential reach trade offs
  • Working with 3rd party ad verification partners to provide better independent transparency -in a beta with Integral Ad Science (IAS) & planning to launch a beta with DoubleVerify soon, whilst also exploring partnerships with OpenSlate, comScore and Moat

YouTube is obviously the largest online video platform in the world – and Reprise recognises the importance of YouTube as channel which can drive unparalleled reach, engagement, and performance for our clients’ video campaigns. We have long been lobbying for these type of changes to ensure the safety of our clients’ brands when it comes to YouTube advertising. As such, we are pleased to see Google bring in these new measures and believe they definitely provide a much improved level of safety for advertising on this platform. YouTube is definitely a safer place for brands to advertise now than it was at the start of 2017. However, we always believe that more can be done and that this needs to be constantly reviewed & improved to ensure brand safety keeps pace with the changing digital landscape. Introducing pre-bid verification from the 3rd party measurement platforms mentioned above would be a great way for Google to provide additional brand safety & peace of mind for advertisers – to ensure that digital marketing activity is never shown alongside, or associated with, inappropriate content. We will continue to work with Google to monitor developments and help to drive change in this space.

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Paul Watson

Hi! I'm Head of Paid Digital Solutions here at Reprise. With over 10 years of experience of in digital marketing, I have a passion for all things digital. I love helping clients to leverage the power of digital media strategies to deliver on their business goals.
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