Several brands have recently made headlines by announcing their suspension of YouTube advertising campaigns due to brand safety concerns. Like any platform with user generated content, there will always be some content that may not be desirable for a specific brand, but brand safety on YouTube is undeniably very high. And despite the current industry backlash, YouTube remains a much more brand-safe environment than open web video ad networks.

It’s important to note that the examples provided by the press of ads running on top of extremist videos show display ads on YouTube, not the TrueView video ads that drive the majority of YouTube’s revenue. Display ads are often purchased over open ad exchanges with real-time bidding — a significantly less brand-safe way of buying ads, compared to TrueView video advertising. Ad exchanges don’t provide any detailed context about the content they’re displaying ads against (information that is critical to brand safety) and marketers must invest in knowing the context that they’re advertising against.

How ads are bought on YouTube, and how that relates to brand safety

TrueView in-stream and video discovery ads are purchased via AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager. These ads allow for strong contextual filtering to be applied, like keywords or placements. By contrast, programmatic ad exchanges know very little about the specific videos they place ads against, they can’t apply contextual filtering (e.g., they can’t apply negative keywords or easily rule out undesirable channels).

How we ensure brand suitability

Pixability buys exclusively through AdWords, which provides the strongest contextual filtering options available on YouTube. Through AdWords, we’re able to know a great deal about the videos and channels we’re placing ads against, and we use that information to ensure that our customers’ advertising appears in brand-safe environments. In addition to buying on AdWords, we provide a custom-built brand suitability filter, combining negative targeting lists and human expertise to keep ads from running against undesirable content.

Here’s an example from a recent campaign: a major beauty brand bought ad inventory from a major multi-channel network as a package deal, but was skeptical about the quality. Pixability was asked to measure brand suitability and brand fit; we flagged that 52% of the ad placements were either not brand-safe by the brand’s criteria (e.g., strong language), or a bad fit for the brand’s desired environment. After Pixability took over and optimized the campaign using our data, the campaign’s performance against engagement KPIs improved by over 290%.

We understand brand suitability is top of mind for our customers, and always strive to educate them on the importance of putting the granular targeting — and negative targeting — options available on YouTube to work. When done right, YouTube advertising can be highly curated at scale, in a way that meets an advertiser’s specific brand suitability criteria.

Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about how Pixability can help ensure your advertising reaches its target audience in brand-safe environments.