YouTube reveals ‘action plan’ to tackle spate of brand safety issues

YouTube has introduced a four-step action plan in hopes of battling the brand safety concerns that have plagued the video platform this year.

The action plan includes hiring more people to review content, expanding its use of machine learning to vet content, creating a regular report that will provide more transparency around how it goes about removing videos and comments that violate its policies, and implementing stricter advertising criteria to give marketers more peace of mind about where their ads are running.

The plan comes as YouTube tries to convince marketers that its platform is still a safe space to advertise, despite recent headlines claiming otherwise.

YouTube’s brand safety woes began in March when brands including Verizon, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo pulled their ads from the platform after an investigation found ads appearing next to extremist videos. Despite many brands returning to the platform months later, concerns around brand safety resurfaced again just weeks ago after a report by The Times found that ads are running next to videos that feature scantily clad children, many of which attract comments from pedophiles.

All of this has led YouTube to create a plan that it hopes will address concerns around its handling of these issues. According to YouTube, the Google-owned platform plans to bring the total number of “human reviewers,” or people who are tasked with removing content that violates its policies, to more than 10,000 next year.

YouTube is also hoping to further utilize its machine learning capabilities, which were implemented in June to flag violent and extremist content for human review. Since June, YouTube said machine learning technology has helped it remove more than 150,000 violent and extremist videos. In light of the child safety concerns that have caused brands including Adidas and Mars to pull advertising from the site, YouTube said that it has begun training its machine learning technology to flag these types of videos as well.

In addition to providing greater transparency to advertisers and creators via a regular report that's set to debut in 2018, YouTube is also developing a “new approach to advertising” that it said will involve carefully considering which channels and videos are eligible for brands. According to YouTube, this new approach will include ramping up the team of ad reviewers who ensure ads are only running where they should.

"We are taking these actions because it’s the right thing to do. As the challenges to our platform will evolve and change, our enforcement methods must and will evolve to respond to them. But no matter what challenges emerge, our commitment to combat them will be sustained and unwavering. We will take the steps necessary to protect our community and ensure that YouTube continues to be a place where creators, advertisers, and viewers can thrive,” said chief executive Susan Wojcicki in a statement.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs

Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

All by Minda