The mass exodus of YouTube by advertisers could cost Google as much as $750 million in revenue, according to analyst estimates. And with global digital ad spending reaching $195 billion last year (source: eMarketer), there is simply too much money and risk involved to gamble with user-generated content (UGC) or questionable content.
Advertisers should be focusing on brand-safe media, especially when it comes to video. And they should be paying attention to the rise of over-the-top (OTT), which is emerging as the fastest-growing segment of video advertising views. According to The Diffusion Group, OTT ad revenues are forecasted to rise to $31.5 billion by 2018 from $8.5 billion in 2015.
The YouTube controversy also highlights the challenges with programmatic advertising. While automated media buying offers tremendous efficiencies, ad platforms need to invest in more human oversight to police content more thoroughly to avoid the costly mistake of having ads end up appearing next to offensive content that’s detrimental to an advertiser’s brand. Given the size and scope of advertiser spending on YouTube, it’s unacceptable to blame the volume of video uploads for not having adequate review policies in place.
Advertisers deserve stricter assurances on where their ads will appear as brand safety is of utmost importance in maintaining brand integrity. As advertisers evaluate the effectiveness and ROI of their media buying in brand-safe environments, here’s my take on the top three considerations:
Focus on premium long-form OTT content – Reaching premium audiences is the best approach for brand safety and we should make it easy for advertisers to buy premium media at scale. Buying ad inventory on premium content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms addresses brand safety, viewability and fraud. You want to ensure that your ads run on trusted networks with authenticated viewers.
Demand greater transparency – Advertisers expect to have control of their brand and they need to know exactly where their ads appear. While some providers tout low CPMs, they are adding a significant amount of short-form, non-branded advertising products into the mix, including user-generated content, to keep costs down. If you want brand-safe long-form premium content, be wary and ask questions.
Enhance consumer experience with fewer, more relevant ads – Too often, consumers are bombarded with irrelevant (and repetitive) ads on their various apps and devices. The OTT and on-demand environment offers advertisers a far more targeted audience, where viewers see fewer, more relevant ads. To address repetitiveness, we need to strike the right balance between frequency capping not just on shows but on providers and networks. Furthermore, the emergence of precision audience targeting in OTT will further yield greater efficiencies in reach and relevancy.
The future of advertising is about reaching premium audiences. In our ever-increasing ‘place-shifting’ era, where consumers pick a device, connect to the Internet and consume OTT content, advertisers need trusted partners who are committed to transparency and deliver greater ad relevancy so that consumers will enjoy engaging in brand experiences.