Live streaming, unknown video ad placements threaten brand safety, open door for publishers

By Philippe Guay


New York, United States


Although it seems like we’ve been talking about brand safety for years, it’s still an issue facing advertisers and publishers today.

Unfortunately, we were served a reminder of just how difficult it is for major video platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to keep violent videos off of their platforms with the recent mass shootings in New Zealand. As the shooter live-streamed his violent attack, the platforms scrambled to shut down the feed. But versions of the video could still be found hours later, despite the ever increasing processes put in place to prevent it.

Companies have becoming much more discerning about where and under what circumstances their brands are displayed. The "unknown" factor of major platforms has many companies concerned.
Companies have becoming much more discerning about where and under what circumstances their brands are displayed. The "unknown" factor of major platforms has many companies concerned.

A marketing director for Google Ads recently admitted he didn’t think YouTube would ever be able to be 100% brand-safe after issues were found, not with the videos themselves but with the comment section of YouTube. This is just the latest in a string of bad news for the platforms, and this incident is sure to have lasting effects on where advertisers allocate their video budgets.

What does this mean for publishers?

Surprisingly, this shake-up in the advertising industry means there is more money previously parked in campaigns with platforms like Facebook and YouTube that needs to be put elsewhere. There is a massive opportunity for publishers who can provide advertisers a safe space to promote their brands.

Brand safety 101

Brand safety can differ depending on the product and industry, but there is an overarching group of content types to avoid. These are nicknamed the Dirty Dozen, and they make up the foundation of brand safety.

As published in Grapeshot’s New Rules of Brand Safety guide, the Dirty Dozen includes the following content types: adult, arms, crime, death/injury, piracy, hate speech, military conflict, obscenity, illegal drugs, spam, terrorism, and tobacco. But brand safety is more than just avoiding blatant violence and hate speech.

Many brands also want to avoid advertising on any content that may paint their product or brand in a negative light. For example, an automotive brand wouldn’t want its commercial to run before news about a terrible car crash. Some brands do not want to be connected with political news.

The trouble is when advertisers turn to the large platforms, they don’t always know what content their advertisements will appear on.

The opportunity for publishers

With advertisers looking to move their budgets to a brand-safe option, publishers can take this opportunity to deliver safe video content.

Condé Nast, for example, has been building its Condé Nast Prime offering, which is comprised of its owned and operated video content channels. By maintaining control of the content production, comment section moderation, and advertising sales, Condé Nast is able to ensure its content is brand-safe and charge a premium for it.

In fact, many advertisers have started bypassing YouTube to work directly with content creators to guarantee their ads will only be shown on content they feel comfortable with. However, you don’t have to create your own video content to provide a brand-safe video offering on your Web site.

What can newspaper publishers do with their existing offerings?

Many of the categories they offer their audiences are perfect for delivering a truly safe and sound environment. Think for a minute about environments like business and technology, living, cooking, travel, or life. Publishers can create sponsored environments where they can guarantee brand safety at 100% — something Facebook and YouTube cannot deliver.

A great example of a sponsored environment is the digital sports section. Sports video, whether done in-house or through third-party producers, connects with fans of all demographics and is an easy way for publishers to capitalise on the demand for brand-safe video advertising inventory.

About Philippe Guay

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