Brand Safety in the era of Slow Content Policing on Social Platforms
March 06, 2019
With recent concerns of the Momo Challenge viral internet hoax, some advertisers began quickly pulling back dollars from YouTube. Today’s cluttered social environments have provided anything but solace for consumers and marketers alike. Potentially offensive content, fake news, and hoax challenges still manage to find a way to disrupt social media platforms – making brand safety a top concern for digital marketers.
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Seraj Bharwani, recently commented on advertisers’ risks of brand safety on the larger social platforms:
“This is not the first time we have heard of the brand safety scandal on YouTube. Advertisers need to be clear about why they are buying advertising on YouTube/Google. If an advertiser wants great audience REACH, then the environment within which the ads run may not always be brand appropriate or brand safe. As sophisticated as Google happens to be with its pattern recognition algorithms, it is unrealistic to expect the platform to police every video and comment posted on the platform. And Google isn’t about to shut down the commenting altogether like the PBS News Hour as it would severely curtail the engagement potential of the YouTube platform.
If on the other hand advertisers want fully brand-safe and brand-appropriate environment for their ads, their best bet would be to buy access to the YouTube audience through premium publishers like Disney, Vevo, Buzzfeed, and others who have captive channels on YouTube to ensure control over the quality of the media environment. There is a good chance that advertisers would sacrifice media efficiency (premium environments command higher prices) and REACH.”
Take the YouTube Kids app that launched in 2015 for example. Violent clips that were intended for kids popped up frequently on its family-friendly app designed for children. Ads for a wholesome brand could easily appear on a violent video featuring Spider-Man and Princess Elsa (of Disney’s Frozen) locked in a brutal machine gun standoff. Thousands of these disturbing videos were recently spun up by enterprising YouTube growth hackers looking to monetize views from children. And it worked: videos from just one such channel collected at least five figures’ worth of annual revenue from unsuspecting advertisers.
How else can advertisers police content and protect their digital marketing efforts?
In addition to selecting exclusion categories and limited inventory types, advertisers should focus on setting whitelists, blocklists, and third-party brand safety tagging as backup. 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.”
Move Ad Dollars
If social platforms are in hot water and brands want to ensure their ad placement keeps them off the front page of the Wall Street Journal, brands should distribute ad dollars through platforms that give brand safety options. This is especially true depending on the target market for your advertising.
AcuityAds is dedicated to providing brand-safe environments for our customers and their brands. We guard our clients through industry-leading partnerships, brand-conscious ad buying practices, and highly-vigilant campaign monitoring. AcuityAds’ Contextual Scanner is always on. We verify content to match IAB brand safety measures so you know your ads only appear in brand safe environments. We do the following pre-campaign, in-flight and post-campaign:
- Minimize bot fraud, human click farms & iFraming units
- Traffic, Content Scoring & IP Filtering
- Global & industry wide advertiser whitelists/blacklists
- Fully integrated with comScore vCE
- Compatible with Nielsen OCR and Integral Ad Science
Transparency is only the beginning. And in the meantime, social platforms are responsible for vigilant surveillance of their platforms for objectionable content and should vow to ensure that the technology solutions align with consumer demographics. Advertisers, in turn, are responsible for leveraging third-parties to ensure their investment in these platforms is effectively reaching intended consumers and driving them to take the desired action.