Google is promising that real people will watch premium YouTube videos to make sure ads don't end up next to scary content
- YouTube is promising advertisers that all videos sold as part of its 'Google Preferred' ad offering will soon be vetted by real people.
- The move is in response to growing advertiser pressure. Preferred had been long billed as a premium, brand-safe alternative to advertising on TV. But some of the channels featured in Preferred featured content that spooked advertisers.
- In addition, Google is upping its requirements for YouTube channels to be eligible to carry ads as it looks to get out in front of the brand-safety challenge.
Google is promising that real people will screen all YouTube videos that may potentially carry ads for its top spending marketers.
The human-labor-intensive promise is the latest response by the Alphabet-owned video giant to the non-stop noise regarding digital advertising and 'brand safety.'Over the past year or so, big marketers have found their ads next to objectionable content, including hate videos and child-exploiting clips on YouTube. Just recently, a top YouTube star, Logan Paul, came under fire for posting a video featuring a dead body.
It would take a vast army of people for YouTube to screen every single video that gets posted to the video sharing site, where people upload 400 hours of content per minute.
In this case, YouTube is promising full human video vetting for Google Preferred, the company's four-year-old ad offering that enables marketers to run ads only in the top 5% of YouTube channels in terms of popularity. This policy will take effect by mid February in the US and mid March for the rest of the world.
A Business Insider investigation last year revealed that Google, which had billed Preferred as the cream of the crop for major advertisers contemplating shifting ad budgets from TV to YouTube, did not have a handle on what kinds of videos were featured as part of it. Several big agencies and marketers felt misled.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Google said it's expanding the definition of the Preferred offering to encompass both popular and brand safe. "We created Google Preferred to surface YouTube's most engaging channels and to help our customers easily reach our most passionate audiences," wrote Paul Muret, Google's vice president of display, video & analytics.
"Moving forward, the channels included in Google Preferred will be manually curated and ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines."Besides shoring up Preferred, Google is raising the bar for YouTube channels that are eligible to make money from ads. Last year the company instituted a new rule requiring channels to have at least 10,000 views to cash in from ads.
Now channels will need to have at least a thousand subscribers and have generated a 4,000 hours of watch time over the last year to be ad-eligible. The thinking is that these metrics are a better indicator of consistent viewership for a YouTube channel than simply raw views, which could theoretically be artificially inflated.
This way, YouTube should be able to keep advertisers away from any suspect channels while not inadvertently burying any smaller creators.
YouTube said it will also keep an eye out for channels that get flagged by the community for any abusive content.
"This combination of hard-to-game user signals and improved abuse indicators will help us reward the creators who make engaging content while preventing bad actors and spammers from gaming the system in order to monetize unsuitable content," wrote Muret.
Google said that 95% of the potential audience reach for advertisers on YouTube will be unaffected by this policy tweak.
Lastly, Google is providing advertisers more transparency into what kind of channels they can potentially run ads on before they pull the trigger on campaigns - and what tradeoffs might occur if they opt out of certain content. For example, a more conservative advertiser would be able to avoid some of the edgier gamer or comedy videos on YouTube - but they'd also be able to see how that strategy might limit how many people they'd be able to reach with a YouTube ad campaign.