Sky has yet to resume advertising with YouTube nearly 18 months after it was pulled in the wake of The Times brand safety exposé.
The media giant was among a number of advertisers that paused spend after it was revealed how brands were appearing next to violent, hateful, and other inappropriate content on the Google-owned platform.
Google has been on a year-long offensive to win back the trust of brands, opening itself up to the brand safety standards set by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (Jicwebs) in a bid to be more transparent and developing a four-pronged plan of action - which has seen it hire more people and invest in machine learning to vet video. It has also implemented stricter advertising criteria.
However, speaking at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) annual lunch yesterday (3 July), Sky’s chief executive for the UK and Ireland revealed that it the company is still not satisfied with Google’s efforts.
"We only put money where we understand how it’s being spent," said Stephen van Rooyen. "The debate around YouTube is no longer a debate; we will not go onto YouTube when there’s just not the level of brand safety that we need.
“As advertisers, we all know the issues with online platforms around measurement, viewability, ad fraud and brand-safety. If we, as brands spending millions of pounds on advertising, can’t guarantee a certain standard of transparency, how can the individual feel protected in the digital Wild West?"
Sky isn’t the only advertiser to hold back. Diageo’s top marketer for the Captain Morgan brand told The Drum in April that it also hadn't resumed spending its ad budgets with YouTube after cutting it from plans a year earlier, and that it hasn’t seen any tangible impact on brand performance as a result.
“It’s not impacting negatively on our reach or our engagement,” Amy Mooney said, meaning it’s in no rush to return.
According to a recent study into marketers' perceptions of social platforms on tackling the issue of brand safety, 45% said Google (and Facebook) were doing a “poor” job while 42% said they weren’t convinced that their concerns were being addressed.
Sky’s desire to mitigate against risks of advertising in this “wild west” was among one of the reasons its £400m account remained with Mediacom following a review earlier this year.
“One of the things we, and other advertisers, had become agitated by is the ability to see through the digital wild west and understand things like effectiveness and brand safety,” van Rooyen continued. "Understanding the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising has become more difficult.”
As such, he said that a core part of the review was about “setting industry-leading standards for transparency and accountability across the media supply chain” in order to feel confident with spending on the likes of YouTube again.