How risky is Google Preferred? Still too risky and not brand-safe, says the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).
In a report titled “Risky Business: Exploring Brand Safety on YouTube,” the VAB makes the case that YouTube still has monthly brand safety flare-ups, despite all the negative attention it’s gotten. It quotes studies that viewers aren’t as engaged with negative or unsafe videos, and that 36 percent of viewers see an ad as an endorsement of that video’s content by the brand.
YouTube created its curated Google Preferred tier as a response those issues, and has had employees screen every video in the program since earlier this year. But the VAB reports says there’s no transparency with Google Preferred, such as a list of which channels are in each vertical. It quotes a March 2018 Delmondo report that few of YouTube’s top creators are brand safe.
How serious is this problem? Brands might pull their ads from YouTube following a well-publicized incident, but they typically come back a few days later. And Google Preferred inventory has been selling well.
“Our belief is that most advertisers buy into the scale that YouTube provides overall, not realizing how very deep their schedule needs to go to get that scale,” says Marianne Vita, VAB’s vice president of strategic insights. “The deeper into the channel list an advertiser goes, the higher likelihood of encountering content of poor quality, creating inherent risks for brands. It also puts ads in content that receives negligible exposure, which is not a very strong branding environment.”
Okay, so how is Google Preferred not transparent?
“The lack of transparency into Google Preferred is concerning. As standard operating procedure, YouTube does not provide basic details such as a channel list, unless requested by the advertiser—a practice unheard of on other platforms or media,” Vita says. “Advertiser dissatisfaction with Google Preferred’s content monitoring has been reported widely within the past few years. Algorithmic processes or waiting for a community member to flag the unsavory content so a human reviewer can confirm or deny whether the video needs to be removed or demonetized does not provide the safety assurances marketers deserve.”
VAB does see one bright spot on YouTube, however: advertising solely on the professionally-produced TV and movie content hosted that’s on the platform, “which is among the most watched and viral of YouTube’s content,” Vita says.
VAB, by the way, is a membership organization for ad-supported premium content studios and programmers. So, consider the source.