Almost two years since the brand safety scandal first broke – and in spite of a more recent incident with Mars – it seems like advertisers might finally be starting to trust YouTube again.
Speaking to Marketing Week at the Dmexco ad tech conference in Germany, YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, said conversations with brands are now more concerned with issues around transparency, viewability and third-party measurement than brand safety. Although it is clear from his comments that those topics are driven by concerns from advertisers about where their ads are appearing.
“Honestly, that’s not even the conversations we’re having with advertisers,” Mohan said when asked whether the Google-owned platform will ever be able to guarantee advertisers a brand-safe environment.
“Advertisers recognise what YouTube is and what they want is the basics around the type of content that’s on the platform, that stuff that is violative is removed, they want those controls.
“And of course transparency, the visibility into where they’re running. And fundamentally advertisers want to be able to make the decisions themselves. What YouTube needs to do is give advertisers the tools to do that.”
Earlier this year, YouTube said it would hire 10,000 people to help monitor content on the platform. It is also developing its machine learning classifiers to be able to cue that content better, as well as “raising the threshold for monetisation” to make sure channels are vetted “above and beyond” previous standards.
Mohan says every video in Google Preferred, its premium ad service, is now manually reviewed.
Mohan’s comments come as YouTube launches two new advertising products: in-feed advertising within the app and vertical video ads.
YouTube claims that Hyundai, one of the first brands to test the vertical format, saw brand awareness increase by 33% and consideration by almost 12%.
The new formats are in line with the fact that 70% of all YouTube viewing is now done on mobile. And with the growth of Instagram and Snapchat, which are built for the mobile world rather than desktop.
However, the fastest growing screen in terms of viewing is now TV, with 180 million hours of YouTube content watched via the box every day. That means, according to Google, that brands need to start thinking more about how creative designed for mobile and desktop translates on to bigger screens.
Naturally, Google is working on a creative solution, and during a separate roundtable event revealed that it is developing the technology to make it easier for advertisers to run and test creative on Google platforms.
“The revolutions that will be key I see mostly in the creative area – real insights and real testing – and this is now the next step,” said the company’s senior vice president and chief business officer, Philipp Schindler.
“If you think about the world of creatives today and how testing really works, it’s pretty anachronistic relative to what you could do if you were to really use the power of the digital world. Why should you take on all the risks that make creative successful when you could fundamentally change the world of testing environments?”
Schindler said the “most sophisticated” brands are developing digital-first campaigns, testing what works and then “transforming the best stuff” back to traditional media.
“We have to help create those next-generation environments for video assets and creative and I think we should supply a lot better and more tools for this environment,” he said.