After the YouTube Adpocalypse brought issues of brand safety to the fore last spring, advertisers are now taking it upon themselves to ensure that their campaigns don’t run alongside controversial content.
Finance giant JP Morgan Chase, for instance, has created an internal tool that plugs into YouTube’s application programming interface (API) and selects channels that it deems safe for ads to appear, according to Business Insider. The algorithm, which was built by the company’s programmatic and media-buying teams, consists of 17 filters that take into account total video count (to weed out channels with one-off viral hits), subscriber counts, general topics typically covered, language, and comments. While JP Morgan had previously paused its YouTube spend entirely at the outset of the Adpocalypse, it has since resumed its spend on 3,000 total channels.
“The model that Google has built to monetize YouTube may work for it, but it doesn’t work for us,” Aaron Smolick, JP Morgan’s executive director of paid media analytics and optimization, told Business Insider. “The attention of protecting a brand has to fall on the actual people within the brand itself.”
JP Morgan began to rethink its digital ad strategy in March, according to Business Insider, when it started white-listing all of the websites where its ads would appear. Starting out with 400,000, that number has since been cut down to 10,000. Then, it rolled out the YouTube algorithm in October after starting work on the project in August. With regular manual checks and the addition of new tools, the company says it currently has a 99.9% success rate.
“The biggest lesson for us was that we realized that it wasn’t a black-and-white conversation with good guys or bad guys, but a gradient,” Smolick concluded. “It isn’t necessarily about ‘brand safety,’ but rather ‘brand appropriateness.’ That’s the next evolution of the debate, with each brand deciding what’s appropriate for them and what’s not.”