With more than one billion global users, YouTube is both a great platform for brands to post videos and a megaphone for brands looking to expand their audience with ads. However, while 99.5 percent of brands post video, only half buy ads on YouTube.
Through its ad products, YouTube is attempting to change the way brands think about digital video ads: the platform announced that non-skippable 30-second ads will be discontinued in 2018, and have been pushing brands to use of 6-second to 20-second “bumper” ads that were beta-tested in 2016. Legacy YouTube video ad options include the TrueView ad – a longer-form video ad appearing either in-stream or on the side rail that requires viewer opt-in – and the MastHead ad, which appears on the YouTube home page.
In addition to in-stream video advertising, advertisers can also buy standard banner and rich media ads that appear on or around the main video player. These are available through AdWords and programmatically through any DSP connected to YouTube’s ad inventory.
While these display ads can be highly targeted based on user data, a potential drawback of placing them programmatically is that they can appear on unregulated user-generated videos. In February 2017, an investigation found Mercedes-Benz ads playing on Islamic State recruiting videos on YouTube’s UK site. Consecutive reports found ads running against hate speech and other objectionable content. The backlash was immediate; brands and their media buyers pulled ads from YouTube and all parties called for Google to provide third-party verification and allow brand safety technology providers onto the platform.
YouTube acted fast, implementing new policies—like only running programmatic ads on channels with more than 10,000 views—and offering more robust brand safety tools almost immediately. While they did not adopt an official third-party verification party, brands are free to run their own, and YouTube was able to avoid a more permanent exodus of advertisers.