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Publishers form regional alliance to exploit brand safety furore sparked by YouTube


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 3, 2017 | 3 min read

An alliance of regional publishers, including Johnston Press, Newsquest, Archant and DC Thompson, have strengthened their resolve to persuade ad agencies and brands to switch their spending to local media in the wake of a brand safety scandal presently engulfing Google’s YouTube platform.

1XL, the union of regional publishers, has published an open letter signed by the chief executive of each member firm, highlighting some of the advantages which they say could come the way of those budgets that make the switch from digital to local.

These include a guarantee that content will only be sourced by trained journalists, regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, ensuring that ads will not appear alongside extremist content or fake news.

1XL will offer advertisers access to over 800 local news brands in the UK and Ireland.

Henry Faure Walker, chief executive of Newsquest said: “The crisis of confidence in the national digital advertising market continues, with advertisers increasingly exposed and worried about the dangers of blind programmatic ad buying which is placing household brands next to extremist content and fake news. Google and Facebook are keen to apologise but they don’t have credible answers.

“Our content is produced by highly skilled local journalists, it is regulated, it relies on human judgement and discretion as opposed to blind algorithms, and it reaches and engages millions of people in communities throughout the UK. As a result, our advertising environment is trusted, safe and highly responsive.”

The move comes amid an industry-wide discussion as to the value of programmatic after ads from some of the world’s biggest advertisers were found to have inadvertently appeared next to inappropriate content on YouTube. From News Corp, owner of the Times newspaper that exposed the issue several weeks ago, to agencies such as Havas and IPG, players from every corner of the industry have waded into the debate as they look to exploit the situation for their own ends.

Some observers speculate whether publishers will use the situation to try and recoup some of the advertiser mindshare they lost amid the advent of online. News Corp boss chief executive Robert Thomson and the Guardian’s chief revenue officer Hamish Nicklin have been among the more vocal critics in recent weeks .

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