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YouTube's New Default Mode Ensures Brand Suitability

Here at iProspect, Brand Safety is a big concern for our clients that are at the forefront of all media execution. This term is an industry buzzword with increasing importance, particularly in regard to Display and Video. Over the past year, there has been more discussion around how to ensure safety and overall suitability for brands, specifically across YouTube. As a premium platform for video content, YouTube is certainly a place to be as an advertiser, but the ongoing question remains: how can one ensure that content is 100% safe in an environment with users watching in aggregate a billion hours of video per day?

To help answer this question, YouTube has launched a new update that provides a tougher default for brand suitability for video campaigns. The new default will be “Standard” Inventory mode, which excludes page content that a brand may deem unsuitable to appear next to. This new default will automatically not allow ads to run across content, for example, with repeated profanity or violence. Standard Mode is a shift from what was previously the option of opting into sensitive subject exclusions and is the recommended (and soon to be the default) setting for brands running ads across YouTube.

In addition, YouTube also has launched two new brand suitability controls for advertisers: Limited Inventory Mode and Expanded Inventory Mode. Limited Inventory Mode is a more restricted option that can exclude content, such as certain degrees of profanity in comedic or music videos; however, this will further limit the inventory and scale a brand can reach. The potential downside of this restriction is that advertisers who select this will likely be blocking wide-reach pop culture content. This option will ensure brand suitability for brands with strict guidelines that cannot be aligned with such content.

The other is Expanded Inventory Mode, the least restricted and most scalable setting, allowing advertisers with more flexibility on brand suitability guidelines to reach a wider range of content. All inventory in Expanded Inventory Mode has been vetted by YouTube and deemed appropriate for their standards on monetization; however, it is still edgier content that may include profanity (for example, in the realm of comedy) or less rigid standards for violence.  

YouTube rolled out the new inventory modes in Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and Display & Video 360 (formerly known as DBM) in late June for initial testing. Beginning in mid-August, advertisers will choose one of these three modes to replace the Sensitive Subject exclusions, which will no longer be available, with Standard Inventory Mode being the automatic default. Advertisers will still be able to input additional exclusion types such as topics and keywords in addition to these modes, if of interest.

So, what should you do next for your brand running on YouTube?

  • Confirm brand guidelines and what type of content is suitable for your brand. This is an important conversation to have and always a good one to re-visit, even if such guidelines have already been discussed!

  • Talk to your agency and your Google reps – what is currently in use for your YouTube campaign? What should change?

  • Think about brand safety and suitability across partners – this is important and evolving not only across YouTube, but also all media your brand leverages.

Given the importance of brand suitability, brand and platform standards will continue to evolve in the marketplace. Here at iProspect, we will monitor these developments to ensure our clients are leveraging the best-in-class practices for suitability and safety.