Transitioning from Brand Safety to Brand Suitability on YouTube

Transitioning from Brand Safety to Brand Suitability on YouTube

Brand safety of YouTube

There’s no doubt in the fact that YouTube is the most popular video-streaming platform that the current generation has in its hands. Given the rising popularity of the Google-owned platform, advertisers have leveraged the opportunity to use it for promotion—something that’s increasingly happening these days. But success in this field requires advertisers to be careful about where their ads are placed online. Taking care of this aspect has become all the more important after the COVID-19 pandemic and recent societal turmoil.

Not to forget, some brands are expected to up their game by taking a firm stand on issues like civil unrest and politics. These are potentially open landmines if not handled with integrity and sensitivity. So, brand safety is something that brand marketers using YouTube should keep in mind while aligning their advertisements with the content they feature on.

YouTube has undertaken an initiative recently to move its Original series to an advertisement-funded model from a paywall model and setting up a DTC Council. But brand safety is a field the video-streaming platform always struggles with. There are many issues at play, the most significant ones being the commercialization of terrorist agenda and distribution of age-inappropriate comments on kids-friendly video content.

There is supposedly a plethora of ways to keep brand advertisements away from unsafe YouTube content. But advertisers are finding it hard to identify suitable content by following standardized brand-safety strategies. Each advertiser has a different threshold when it comes to content selection for placing their ads. This has made it much harder for YouTube and their ad verification teams to exercise control over it.

Hence, YouTube is now working on a set of standards as specified by the Global Alliance of Responsible Media. This generally implies that advertisers will have a baseline for determining the suitability of content for placing their advertisements across eleven categories, including social issues, terrorism, and arms and ammunition.

Taking brand suitability seriously

As YouTube is currently resorting to new standards, brand marketers are feeling the increasing need to shift from “brand safety” to “brand suitability.” This is where Zefr’s technology is showing huge promise when it comes to moderating the world of advertisements on YouTube.

By combining human intervention and machine learning, the technology will allow advertisers to determine the suitability of the video content on which their ads will appear. It provides this information in the form of three thresholds—low, medium, and high.

Take, for example, the category, “Adult and Explicit Sexual Content.” A low-risk video under this category could be a sex education video that an advertiser may consider suitable. However, on the other hand, the medium and high-risk videos could contain content that’s not considered suitable even for television broadcasting.

Advertisers certainly have something to gain from the standardization of content suitability. The process could make it incredibly easier for them to block out unsuitable content. Some advertisers have even asked ad tech companies for brand suitability guarantees while buying placement space for their ads. This means that advertisers are now more interested in playing only for those impressions of their ads that adhere to brand suitability standards.

However, it’s not always easy for ad tech companies to provide such guarantees because the measurement of these impressions is not possible. This is the reason why the new standards of YouTube are seen in the first step towards making brand suitability a trading point for advertisers.

There are expectations shaping that other platforms and open web media owners will follow YouTube’s footsteps in embracing the same standards for brand suitability. Nonetheless, it’s becoming increasingly important to align brands with content that is relevant with their image, audience base, target local markets, and overall business objectives.

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