Google and YouTube ranked 'healthiest' brands despite wave of PR nightmares

The search giant's perception among customers appears to have been unaffected by its challenges according to YouGov's data

Despite facing a €2.4bn antitrust fine from the EU, a scathing expose on making money from terrorism content, and an enquiry into tax avoidance, Google has claimed the top spot in YouGov’s first ever brand health rankings.

Fighting off stiff competition from the likes of Adidas, Facebook and Amazon, the study - which measured the customer perception of firms across several metrics including quality, reputation and value - found Google performed best across the board, with sister company YouTube clocking in at second place.

Tech brands largely dominated the list, with Facebook coming in third, Samsung claiming fourth place and WhatsApp taking fifth.

Apple's iPhone and Amazon came in at number six and seven respectively.

The global brand health report is the first of its kind from YouGov, and while it is based on data from the researcher’s BrandIndex, it offers a more comprehensive look at how customers perceive brands than the firm’s standalone BrandIndex Buzz report which is based on more short-term scores – ie whether a customer has heard something positive about a brand in the past two weeks.

The health rankings are based on data from 32 counties across the world covering markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

Google’s and YouTube’s dominance on the list, which also took into account scores from consumers around impression, satisfaction and whether they would recommend it to others, follows on from a difficult year for its owner Alphabet.

Back in March a report from the Times thrust the company into the spotlight and ignited widespread coverage in the mainstream press around how misplaced ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube were inadvertently funding graphic and extremist content.

While Google has moved to assuage the industry with a series of brand safety measure, it would appear that consumers remain unphased by the negative publicity, with the rankings from YouGov coming just days after Alphabet revealed the troubles had little impact on the company's bottom line.

Three more classic brands completed the global top 10, with Toyota nabbing eighth place and Adidas and Colgate coming placing at number eight and nine.

"Tech brands dominate this global list and with good reason. By their very nature the likes of Google, YouTube and Facebook are open and accessible in most places on earth to anyone with online access," said Ted Marzilli, chief executive of YouGov data products.

"All of the brands in the ranking are mainstream with broad utility at their core – and this is as true of the likes of Toyota and Colgate as it is for WhatsApp and Samsung," he added.

YouGov has also detailed which brands have improved their brand health score the most over the past 12 months. Coming out on top was Tesco, which unveiled its first ads from BBH towards the end of 2015, while Netflix and WhatsApp came in at number two and three.

The British version of the rankings looked very different to the global list, with John Lewis taking the crown. BBC iPlayer, Sony, Marks & Spencer and Amazon completed the top five 'healthiest' brands in the UK.

Amelia Brophy, YouGov’s UK head of data products said it was a "striking" sign that institutions steeped in history like John Lewis and the BBC had moved with the times to continue to command such attention from consumers.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she has interviewed key figures from brands like Airbnb, Amnesty International, Facebook and Spotify. She has covered international events in Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as Advertising Week Europe.

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