Vevo reminds brands that they're a safe bet in the Youtube desert

Worldwide brands who saw their super bowl commercials being pre-rolled in front of ISIS videos, have walked away from Youtube and Google advertising. This spurred Youtube to tighten their monetising program so that they don't 'accidently' funnel payments off to actual terrorist groups thereby breaking anti-trust laws. Meanwhile, content creators are caught in the middle as videos they made have been silently de-monetized, even though this has been happening since Google decided to enforce their rules in September of last year. Back then, when everything from acne-hiding makeup tutorials to radio shows videos was de-monetized the hashtag YouTubeisOverParty trended, but as we all can see YouTube is still there. Makeup tutorials are still on it, and radio shows still host their videos there.

Vevo has decided to remind advertisers that they are "an oasis in the desert" for brands. Advertisers may walk away from YouTube because you never know where your ad will end up, but Vevo doesn't want to get caught in the aftermath of that. Vevo has professionally produced content, and anything that is "explicit" is marked as such.

YouTube is an incredible open platform that’s grown rapidly, democratized video, and created opportunities to reach a seemingly unlimited audience. Like all opportunities, it can come with risks, and is central to the current industry conversation around brand safety. With hundreds of millions of hours of content created and consumed on YouTube daily, some brands have found themselves in the unenviable position of being associated with highly objectionable content. I believe YouTube will take steps to address these issues. That said, we believe there is a safer way for brands to maximize their reach today, with the confidence of knowing who and what they’re aligned with.

With over 300,000 pieces of content, Vevo makes up less than 0.5% of all videos on YouTube, yet according to data from comScore, 43% of YouTube’s monthly audience is watching Vevo content. With Vevo content, a brand can more effectively target where, when, and what it associates with in reaching an audience on YouTube. Vevo’s content is not UGC, it’s premium, licensed, and professionally produced, with an enormous and unique global reach. In fact, when we looked at an average video buy on Vevo and YouTube, we saw less than 10% duplication across the audiences reached.

The content is vetted through multiple layers of quality control to ensure the safest environment possible for advertisers including:

Automatic categorization if the word “explicit” is in the title or content tags.
Manual categorization if the content includes any of the following:
Vulgar language
Violence and disturbing imagery
Nudity and sexually suggestive content
Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities
What this categorization process does is give brands greater transparency into where and how their campaigns run, and the ability to customize how they target. With Vevo, a client’s advertising only runs on premium content, and can be targeted specifically to over 55,000 artists in our catalog. Our customers also have the option to exclude explicit content. Overall, we believe our clients are better served in the safer environment that Vevo offers on YouTube and other platforms. This approach allows them to maximize reach and minimize risk as they tap into the enormous audience consuming music videos online.

The fact that Vevo felt the need to make that post tells us that even Vevo are worried about the brands walking away from Youtube advertising (and Google). By Friday last week, PepsiCo, Walmart and Starbucks joined the Google ad boycott and pulled all ads from both YouTube and Adsense.

“The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our company values,” Walmart said in a Friday statement.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, was on Fox news and acknowledged that there has been issues with ad placements, but assured that they are doing something about it.

“We match ads and the content, but because we source the ads from everywhere, every once in a while somebody gets underneath the algorithm and they put in something that doesn’t match,” Schmidt said. “We’ve had to tighten our policies and actually increase our manual review time and so I think we’re going to be OK.”

Meanwhile, YouTube content creators and stars like PewDiePie are being demonetized. Many believe the "tightening" has gone too far in the other direction, as lots of 'harmless' content gets demonetized. But what a youtuber considers harmless may still not be brand-friendly in eyes of corporate. When a brand is associated with an ISIS video, a consumer boycott is the least of their worries as we pointed out Google are violating US Treasury Department terror fundraising sanctions by paying terror groups who monetized their content.

Yes, PewDiePie, Google uses software to automatically screen videos' titles, descriptions, images and other signals to prevent ads from appearing on inappropriate content.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Wak's picture

You keep conflating "YouTubers having their innocuous content demonetized" with "advertising on ISIS videos".


Dabitch's picture

The terrorist recruitment videos have always been a problem as the content is uncurated but monetized. This is no longer being ignored by the brands who pay Google for ads, and the mainstream media. In February the snowball began rolling as Google are violating US Treasury Department terror fundraising sanctions if they pay out ad money to terrorist groups. Oh no, that sucks.

See the following links -
BBC Newsnight July 2014 : "Government adverts shown before extremist online videos"
the Times UK Feb 9 : "Big brands fund terror through online adverts"

Adland Feb 9 : "2017 Superbowl commercials appear on Youtube pre-roll before ISIS videos"

The Register UK Feb 10 "ISIS videos, adtech, and the 'smartest guys in the room' (Google)"

.... Which lead us to:

NY Post march 25 : "After a worldwide advertising boycott, it’s time for Google to face up to its responsibilities"

The Times UK March 28 : "Google faces $750m bill in video boycott"

And now that Google finally took action, they did it on a very clumsy manner which unfortunately, does squeeze content creators (AdAge March 30) - this is not the first time that has happened though. They had similar issues last fall when the hashtag #YoutubeisOverParty trended.

To pretend ISIS videos had nothing to do with the current ongoing boycott, and the ensuing tightening of Youtube content rules would be silly. I'm not very silly.