Where is YouTube even going to find offices for 10,000 moderators? In a big attempt to show advertisers that it really is for real this time going to become brand safe, YouTube announced it will drastically up the number of mods vetting content. But there isn’t much room for error at this point.
Here’s the latest: As YouTube’s problems with extremist or child-unsafe content drag on, the company has discovered there’s no substitute for human moderators, and that it takes a large team to cull through the vast amount of videos it receives every hour. In a blog post yesterday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced the company will grow its content moderation team to over 10,000 in 2018. While some publications are reporting that YouTube will add 10,000 staff, that’s not quite right: The blog post didn’t say how many mods YouTube already has, and how many employees will be transitioned from other positions.
With such a huge volume of content, automated processes are still YouTube’s primary defense. Wojcicki said 98 percent of videos removed for violent extremist content are identified by machine-learning algorithms. YouTube started using this system in June, and so far automation has done the work of 180,000 people working 40-hour weeks. Nearly 70 percent of violent extremist content is removed within 8 hours of upload, she said.
YouTube is taking these aggressive actions to convince advertisers that it’s still a safe choice. The company will apply more stringent criteria to which channels and videos can carry ads, Wojcicki wrote, although she didn’t say when that would happen or what the new criteria would be. It can’t come soon enough: Digiday reported today that ad buyers are moving to guaranteed brand-safe environments like Hulu and ESPN, driving prices up higher occasionally than for primetime TV slots.
As Zenith said in its recent advertising forecast, online video ad spending will grow by 17 percent per year through 2020, faster than any other digital channel, but buyers want premium content. Can YouTube’s convince major brands that it really is a safe bet? Its future depends on it.