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Relevance a bigger issue than brand safety

News, 26 July 2017
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NEW YORK: YouTube made a “strong contribution” to Q2 ad revenue growth at Alphabet, which avoided comment on the brand safety issues that dogged the video platform earlier this year, even as anecdotal evidence suggests that relevance is a bigger issue.

The holding company for Google and YouTube reported second quarter revenues of $26bn, up 21% year on year, with ad revenues “led in particular by tremendous results in mobile search with a strong contribution from YouTube”, according to CFO Ruth Porat.

YouTube now has 1.5bn monthly viewers, CEO Sundar Pichai reported, with people watching on average 60 minutes a day on their phones and tablets, although he added that “YouTube watch time on TV screens has nearly doubled year-on-year” helped by the development of ad-supported YouTube originals.

The executives made no mention of the brand safety issues, first raised by The Times of London which reported that ads for leading brands had been appearing on extremist websites, but Advertising Age recently suggested that brand audits have since uncovered a potentially more significant problem in the irrelevance of many ad placements.

According to Andrew Serby, marketing director at Zefr, which analyzes and targets video placements on YouTube for advertisers, alcohol marketers' ads often display in the wrong places.

"They were showing up in front of 'Minecraft' videos, Peppa Pig and all this problematic content where the only possible consumer is a kid," Serby told the publication.

"We've looked at several campaigns where the target is a 25-year-old male or a 35-year-old woman, and no matter what, they're running against Peppa Pig videos, because the algorithm goes to where the eyeballs are, and younger people aren't skipping ads, and if there's a shared device and you're demo targeting, mom hands the kid an iPad and they see it."

His colleague Eric Goldman, VP-product at Zefr, added that more big brands were opting to join the Google Preferred program, which aggregates YouTube's top content across categories into easy-to-buy packages for advertisers.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha, Advertising Age, YouTube; additional content by WARC staff

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