Charting the Adpocalypse: 5% of Advertisers Left Google Preferred

YouTube’s well-publicized brand safety concerns earlier this year led hundreds of advertisers to threaten to boycott the top video sharing site. It also led to a noticeable dip in ad revenue for the site’s top creators—something drama-loving video-makers dubbed “the adpocalypse.”

But how many advertisers actually went through with their threats and stopped advertising on YouTube? To find out, ad sales intelligence company MediaRadar did a little digging.

In April, Google Preferred (the top tier of YouTube’s ad inventory) saw a five percent drop in the number of advertisers, MediaRadar found. While the number of advertisers buying into Google Preferred rose from January through March, April showed a decline.

Companies that pulled out of Google Preferred include Starbucks, Dish, AT&T, and Pepsi. However, four companies that said they’d cut ties—GM, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart­—stuck with YouTube. MediaRadar notes that GM’s ads moved to the YouTube homepage, a sure way to avoid any brand safety concerns.

“It’s not surprising that YouTube might lose business due to brand safety violations,” says Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar. “What is surprising is how few brands actually revolted. The Verge published an article entitled: ‘YouTube Is Facing a Full-Scale Advertising Boycott Over Hate Speech’ on March 24. There were dozens of stories like this. And yet, a month later we learned that few brands boycotted. And of those who said they would, most didn’t. So it was surprising that, despite the dire predictions, little came of it.”

While YouTube and its creators have seen revenue dip because of the issue, the company’s actions seem to have alleviated any long-term damage. So is the company struggling? No.

“Susan Wojcicki said ‘We apologize for letting some of you down. I’m here to say that we can and we will do better.’ It’s clear the company is taking the threat seriously,” Krizelman says. “Struggling implies that you don’t know what to do next. I think YouTube was decisive and will double-down on the quality of their programming. So I don’t believed they struggled.”

While some would have liked to see YouTube get a little comeuppance, and many competitors saw this as a time to siphon off some video ad revenue, YouTube will sail through the adpocalypse just fine.



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