Earlier this year, the UK publication, The Times, reported that government-funded advertising from the Home Office, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Transport for London, and the BBC appeared in front of extremist videos on YouTube. This resulted in a UK cabinet restriction on YouTube advertising that then extended to more than 250 UK brands suspending their campaigns from GDN & YouTube. Most recently, the protests have extended into the US with high profile brands like AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson pulling GDN and YouTube funds as well.
More recently, Adidas and Mars stopped their YouTube buys after a Times piece wrote that ads were being served against content featuring children with inappropriate user comments. YouTube responded with a comment that they were working urgently to de-monetize this content.
Why are brands pulling funding?
Brands are hoping that by pulling their advertising spend, it will result in Google being forced to comply with industry norms related to brand safety and fraud. At the core of this issue is an effort is to better moderate the content placed on YouTube.
Should I be concerned?
Coegi takes brand safety very seriously and has a number of safeguards in place to avoid serving impressions in objectionable content on YouTube as well as other publishers. Although it is concerning that this content exists and the risk to potentially run alongside it is there, advertisers should feel confident that Coegi is taking all precautions available to ensure ads do not run in sensitive areas.
What safeguards are in place?
Pre-bid exclusions (specific to YouTube) – does not allow bids on impressions that fall within the following categories:
- Adult: Adult or pornographic text, image, or video content.
- Derogatory: Content that may be construed as biased against individuals, groups, or organizations based on criteria such as race, religion, disability, sex, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political affiliation. May also indicate discussion of such content, for instance, in an academic or journalistic context.
- Downloads & file sharing: Content related to audio, video, or software downloads.
- Weapons: Contains content related to personal weapons, including knives, guns, small firearms, and ammunition.
- Gambling: Contains content related to betting or wagering in a real-world or online setting.
- Suggestive: Adult content, as well as suggestive content that’s not explicitly pornographic. This category includes all pages categorized as adult.
- Violence: Content which may be considered graphically violent, gory, gruesome, or shocking, such as street fighting videos, accident photos, descriptions of torture, etc.
- Profanity: Prominent use of words considered indecent, such as curse words and sexual slang. Pages with only very occasional usage, such as news sites that might include such words in a quotation, are not included.
- Drugs: Contains content related to the recreational use of legal or illegal drugs, as well as to drug paraphernalia or cultivation.
- Alcohol: Contains content related to alcoholic beverages, alcohol brands, recipes, etc.
- Tobacco: Contains content related to tobacco and tobacco accessories, including lighters, humidors, ashtrays, etc.
- Politics: Political news and media, including discussions of social, governmental, and public policy.
- Religion: Content related to religious thought or beliefs.
- Tragedy: Content related to death, disasters, accidents, war, etc.
- Transportation Accidents: Content related to motor vehicle, aviation or other transportation accidents.
- Sensitive Social Issues: Issues that evoke strong, opposing views and spark debate. These include issues that are controversial in most countries and markets (such as abortion), as well as those that are controversial in specific countries and markets (such as immigration reform in the United States).
Sometimes impressions are served near unsafe content despite pre-bid blocking. This can happen if Bid Manager receives inaccurate URLs, the site is in an unsupported language, or if site content is changed between the time in which a bid is placed on inventory and when ads are served.
What other safeguards is Coegi using outside of YouTube?
Post-bid monitoring: Coegi also partners with a number of technology companies who identify when ads were run in inappropriate or concerning content as well as fraud. Although the impression has already been served, this allows us to keep an updated list of content and sites that we continually blacklist. Unfortunately, post bid tags through these 3rd parties is not allowed in YouTube however, are implemented in our DSP partners.
- White Ops
Should I Continue to Run Ads on YouTube?
Yes – so long as your brand is not related to children or features children in your advertising. For other brands, performance is very strong on YouTube. We see brands with viewability at 95%+ and CTRs 3x that of display. Brand safety reporting in the YouTube platform also shows that no impressions have served in the objectionable categories listed above. This performance combined with the brand safety safeguards justify continued use of video ads in YouTube, however it is something we will be monitoring closely and continue to update our POV as necessary.