Pixability Announces Release of Major YouTube Brand Safety and Suitability Study in Collaboration with Global Alliance for Responsible Media

New report reveals surprising insights that contradict common practices around brand safety, suitability and contextual targeting

BOSTON, MASS – Pixability, (www.pixability.com), the leader in YouTube brand suitability, contextual targeting, and content insights, today announced the launch of a new Advertiser Insights Study, What Every Agency Should Know About Brand Safety, Brand Suitability & Performance on YouTube. The study was developed in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and with input from advertising agency leaders. The research also leveraged brand safety measurement from DoubleVerify. The report, which is based on more than 20,000 YouTube campaigns run during the first half of 2021, is the most recent insights study from Pixability, which is one of just four companies worldwide that is certified by Google’s YouTube Measurement Program in the category of YouTube Content Insights.

The study found that while Google’s brand safety efforts in recent years have made YouTube a safe place for brands to advertise (over 99% safe per GARM’s Aggregated Measurement Report), roughly one third of YouTube campaign impressions can still be unsuitable for specific advertisers. For example, a channel that is 100% brand safe may be connected to an influencer that has shared political beliefs that do not align with an advertiser’s priorities, making it a channel they may consider unsuitable. The study identifies five often unaddressed ways in which brands may be experiencing unsuitable impressions, including misaligning risk level within the suitability framework from GARM which classifies content as low, medium, and high risk.

“We were excited to collaborate with Pixability on this major study, because we see that brand safety and suitability can often be misunderstood or conflated by advertisers,” said Rob Rakowitz, Initiative Lead at GARM. “This study reinforced that YouTube’s efforts have paid off to create a safer environment for advertisers, and this data shows that brands and agencies have further opportunity to take their values into market by better aligning values and content suitability. Findings such as this are an invitation for advertisers, agencies, and platforms to get more granular in where their ads show up. Values and performance can be simultaneously achievable in digital media.”

The other major finding from the study was data that revealed that contextual targeting based on an advertiser’s vertical industry is not a silver bullet on YouTube. Instead, for advertisers in some verticals, focusing YouTube investment in the content category most aligned with that industry often led to subpar performance. For example, automotive content on YouTube performed below average for auto advertisers in the first half of the year — 1% below average on video completion rate and 24% below average on click-through rate. Meanwhile, content including healthy living, pop culture and music all performed above average for auto advertisers. This runs counter to what many agencies and third parties believe to be best practices for contextual targeting on YouTube. The study went on to show that the current practice of blocking certain content categories or sets of keywords can do more harm than good to a campaign by limiting scale and performance.

“This study presented some very enlightening data for advertisers about the pitfalls of blocking content categories or large numbers of broad keywords and how to remediate that with a more sophisticated way of safely reaching a broader but suitable audience,” said John Montgomery, leading industry expert on brand safety. “Aggressive blocking is not only outdated, but it also can harm the performance of a campaign and limit its reach.”

“It’s undeniable that YouTube is now one of the world’s most important advertising channels, yet there are many brand safety and suitability practices still in place that this study shows to be ineffective,” said David George, CEO of Pixability. “We’ve seen a real shift in the market as advertisers no longer need to take such a defensive, impression-limiting approach to YouTube, but can go on the offense to find the scale they need in any suitable content categories. We hope this study will help guide digital marketers to make more effective decisions as they plan their next YouTube campaigns.”

The following is a summary of some of the key results of the study:

  • Brand Safety (#1) and Ad Performance (#2) are the two most important outcomes that advertisers look for when advertising on YouTube
  • YouTube has a less than 1% advertiser safety error rate
  • YouTube campaigns are over 99% safe without using any brand suitability tactics, but without using suitability tactics, they can be 31% unsuitable for the average advertiser
  • Keyword blocking of common words like “knife” and “shot” can block big swaths of premium content on YouTube such as 8.7M views on the Food Network and and 172M views on ESPN, respectively
  • Music and News content are among the most blocked content areas on YouTube, but were among the most top performing content areas in the first half of 2021

About Pixability

Pixability is a technology and data company that empowers the world’s largest brands and their agencies to maximize the value of video advertising on YouTube, YouTube on TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. The company’s industry-leading brand suitability, optimization, and insights solutions are based on 4As and GARM/WFA standards for safety and suitability and are independently verified by the YouTube Measurement Program, DoubleVerify, and other third parties. Pixability’s suite of solutions are used by the top media agencies and brands including Dentsu-Aegis, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis, and GroupM, as well as Swatch, Bose, KIND, Hilton, Jack in the Box, and Puma. For more information about Pixability, please visit www.pixability.com.

Media Contact:

Alexandra Levy
Silicon Alley Media for Pixability