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Agencies Tap OpenSlate to audit YouTube Brand Safety

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Marketing Dive – That agencies are establishing ongoing relationships with companies like OpenSlate shows they are taking clients’ concerns about brand safety seriously. Whether these moves will be enough to prevent ads from showing up next to controversial content is still unclear. 

The agencies responsible for buying video media for a large number of brand-side clients have turned to third-party measurement on YouTube after brand safety issues arose early this spring when U.K. companies discovered their ads appeared next to violent or terrorist-supporting content, leading to a brief boycott of the video platform. YouTube’s brand safety issues hit a peak when a worldwide boycott of the video platform and other Google properties reached a 5% drop in YouTube’s top North American advertisers, according to MediaRadar.

The task of ensuring brand safety can be a tough one for media buyers without third-party expertise. According to OpenSlate cited in the Journal, there are more than 350 million ad-supported videos on YouTube, and the average $100,000 campaign could include ads running on 200,000 different videos, suggesting an overwhelming number of ads to monitor.

YouTube’s parent company Google quickly began taking steps to alleviate the problem with improving its screening tech and allowing third-party measurement companies like OpenSlate to monitor where ads appear on the site. Given the scope of its digital advertising footprint, most brands couldn’t afford to stay away for too long. From Google’s perspective, the boycott did little damage. MediaRadar findings provided to Marketing Dive suggested YouTube had soundly recovered by August, with a 50% increase in Google Preferred advertisers using the platform by May.

In its Q2 earnings report, Google parent company Alphabet reported a major bounce back with healthy ad revenue up $22 billion based on YouTube and mobile search.

Dive Brief:

  • Ad agency conglomerates including Omnicom Media Group, Publicis Media and Interpublic’s Magna Global are enlisting analytics company OpenSlate’s auditing services to reassure marketers that ads on YouTube won’t appear next to offensive content, according to The Wall Street Journal. Previously, agencies worked with OpenSlate and others on a more ad hoc basis.
  • OpenSlate analyzes campaigns to verify they are reaching the right target audience, among other criteria. It scores YouTube content for quality and brand safety while also providing insight into the types of videos a brand’s ad have run on.
  • Magna Global told the Journal it is leveraging OpenSlate to help brands prevent their ads from appearing next to controversial content. The agency urges clients who are very concerned about brand safety to only buy against 10,000 channels audited by Magna and OpenSlate.

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