Google promises to ‘listen more’ as it rolls out new ad controls on YouTube

Cannes Lions 2018: Google’s EMEA boss Matt Brittin admits the tech giant needs to get better at listening to the concerns of the ad industry as it looks to move on from the brand safety scandal.

YouTube

Google has promised it will get better at listening to the concerns of the advertising industry following a difficult 18 months for the company as the fallout from the brand safety scandal continues.

Speaking at a press briefing at Cannes Lions this morning (20 June), EMEA boss Matt Brittin said that while it has listened hard to partners such as publishers, it now needs to pay more attention to advertisers.

“It’s true we have to pay attention more and get better at listening. We’ve worked hard with the publisher industry, we’ve made progress doing that in YouTube,” he told Marketing Week.

“The last couple of years have marked an increased engagement with the [ad] industry. We’ve been spending a lot of time listening to what advertisers and agency partners want to be able to deliver, and they want [YouTube] to deliver amazing reach, connections with communities that are not available elsewhere and amazing creative environments.

“They understand that is different to appearing in a newspaper and it’s an add game, they want to do both. It’s been a good step change in our level of engagement with the industry, we want to listen and respond and deliver.”

The latest step in delivering on advertiser demands is the roll-out of simpler and more transparent controls, including a three-tier suitability systems that allows advertisers to reflect their view of appropriate placement for their brands. This was promised back in January, but is launching this week as part of Google’s response to ensuring ads appear in places advertisers feel comfortable about.

We have to pay attention more and get better at listening.

Matt Brittin, Google

It is also 85% of the way to hiring 10,000 people to work on content moderation, and is collaborating with 150 NGOs and institutions which advise the company on areas such as extremism and child safety. In its latest transparency report, 70% of content was removed by machines, and two-thirds of that before it had a single view.

Debbie Weinstein, managing director of YouTube explained: “When we use people to write the policies they help us train the machines. Getting this problem solved is really about using people and machines. People are great at nuance and context and machines are great at scale and speed; we need both of these things working together to solve the problem.”

YouTube has also taken a new approach to monetisation, raising the threshold for the content ads can appear alongside. Channels now have to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months to be eligible for ads, as well as adhere to YouTube’s content rules, and all videos on its premium ad platform Google Preferred are now verified.

“This has] really been a big commitment and change in perspective. We really changed our philosophy and said monetisation is a privilege that is earned, not a right when you show up and upload content,” said Weinstein.

Brittin described a “zero tolerance approach” to the enforcement of standards on YouTube, although he admitted that didn’t mean there would be zero occurrences, in part because the scale and reach of YouTube attracts a minority of “bad actors”. And he said YouTube would continue to push the boundaries and drive innovation to offer new experiences for both consumers and advertisers.

“We have to balance wanting to drive innovation that benefits users, and that’s disruptive, but we also take our responsibilities really seriously and we listen and engage and try to get that balance right. As you build relationships over time they become positive and challenging partnerships, where you challenge on both sides, and that’s a good creative thing,” he added.

To drive creativity on YouTube, Google is launching a new ‘creative suite’ that aims to offer brands and agencies resources and tools to improve the effectiveness of their video advertising. New tools include ‘video experiments’, which let brands test different versions of an ad or different target audiences at low cost and in real time, and ‘video creative analytics’, which lets advertisers mark key brand moments such as a pack shot and see audience retention rates and where viewers drop off so they can make tweaks.

And in a move aimed at helping marketers drive forward mass personalisation, it is introducing ‘director mix’ and ‘video ad sequencing’. The first lets brands create many versions of a base video and set elements to be swappable so they are more relevant to specific audiences.

The second lets brands tell their story over multiple pieces of content. For example, for the release of the film ‘The Greatest Showman’, viewers who watched the full 30-second ad were shown different content next time to those that didn’t.

Google also revealed YouTube now has 1.9 billion monthly active users.

Read all  of Marketing Week’s Cannes Lions 2018 coverage, sponsored by MiQ, here.  

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