Can YouTube Ever Be Brand Safe?


Angry Mob YouTube

They say that if you ask the wrong question, you are guaranteed to get the wrong answer. Asked as, “Can YouTube ever be brand safe?” the answer is no. There is no possible way to make YouTube, or any environment that relies so heavily on user-generated content (UGC), 100 percent brand safe. Asked as, “Is YouTube safe for my brand?” is a better question, and it is the proper lens for any serious marketing discussion.

Before we get into what might be possible (assuming the government doesn’t get involved), I want to tell you exactly what is going to happen. Alphabet (GOOGL)  is a publicly traded, for-profit company. It has only one job: maximize shareholder value. And that is exactly what YouTube’s leadership team will be tasked to do. They will be given the resources needed to make YouTube as profitable as possible. If that happens to include making YouTube brand safe (or brand safer), great! If not, brands will be free to vote with their advertising dollars.

Targeting at Scale

YouTube has exceptionally large video audiences which you can very specifically target. If you want to put your message in front of every two-headed Martian who watches YouTube, enter your targeting parameters, choose a budget that fits your needs, sit back and enjoy.

There are other purveyors of digital and social video audiences you can target, such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Snapchat. BTW, I’m using two-headed Martians as a metaphor. In practice, you can describe your target audience with a high degree of granularity. If you know whom you want to reach, all of these platforms have solutions for you.

Brand Safety

The objective benchmark for what is, or is not, brand safe differs from advertiser to advertiser. In fact, it can vary from product to product. If I’m marketing an R-rated movie that is full of colorful metaphors, I may not be super-sensitive to a few expletives appearing in the adjacent UGC or professionally produced content. If I’m marketing a family movie, my tolerance for colorful metaphors, or violence, or anything deemed untoward in the adjacent content may be exactly zero.

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Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, ...

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Alpha Stockman 2 years ago Member's comment

All that really matters to companies is that people use #YouTube. As long as they can reach millions of potential customers, they'll be there. $GOOGL