YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
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- Once again, a bunch of big-name advertisers have been spotted running ads next to objectionable content on YouTube.
- This time, however, the controversy could actually help YouTube by nudging more brands to buy its most expensive ad offering, which promises human vetting of content.
- The story is also probably great news for TV ad sales people.
YouTube has another brand-safety disaster on its hands. But this time it could actually help the Alphabet-owned video giant.
Late Thursday, CNN broke another bombshell story about loads of big-name advertisers— including Under Armour, Adidas, and Cisco — unknowingly running next to white nationalist videos, clips aimed at pedophiles, and other extremist fare.
This comes after numerous rounds of similar high-profile embarrassments over the past few years, leading multiple ad giants to pull money from YouTube. Each of those was followed by a string of apologies and new policies implemented by YouTube promising to prevent this sort of thing.
As one ad buyer put it: “This feels like a rerun. Only this time it shows YouTube can’t fix it.”
Yikes, right? Especially considering that in two weeks, YouTube is scheduled to host its annual brandcast presentation to advertisers in New York.
Maybe not. That’s because YouTube recently pledged to task humans with reviewing all of the channels that fall within its Google Preferred offering, which is designed to help advertisers buy ads only on the most popular channels.
That could make advertisers feel a lot safer buying ads on YouTube compared with buying ads programmatically through Google’s self-serve tools, since you never know where your ad might end up in that scenario.
And guess what? Google Preferred costs more. Sometimes two or three times as much, according to ad buyers.
You can almost hear YouTube’s coming pitch:
“We’re really sorry about all this. We’re working hard to fix it. That’s why we’re committed to vetting every video within Preferred to protect your brands.
“Of course, we realize that many advertisers will choose not to buy ads via Preferred. And we’re working to make every video safe through machine learning and other tech. But if you really need to be safe right now …”
Of course, this latest mess will surely cause some brands to stay away from YouTube completely for a while. But the platform is so big, and so crucial for reaching younger consumers, that it will be very hard to stay away.
So maybe it’s time to pay up.
Other potential winners from YouTube’s ongoing brand-safety drama:
- TV networks. Yes, ratings for live TV are slipping, and viewership is fragmenting like crazy. But there are no white nationalists on “This is Us.”
- Companies like OpenSlate, Zefr, and Pixability, which promise to help advertisers weed through YouTube channels and find ones that are suitable. They are probably about to get more calls.
- Any startup entrepreneur with an idea on how to screen and filter videos on a massive scale. If you are this person, build your product right away. Google will surely buy you.
Get the latest Google stock price here.
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