Read our new manifesto

Future of Media: Google ad ban report, iProspect x Vizeum, TikTok safety tools

The Drum's senior reporter and media correspondent John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends and developments. Also available in your inbox every Thursday as The Drum's Future of Media email briefing. Sign up here.

This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing. You can subscribe to it here if you’d want the full thing in your inbox once a week from John McCarthy (Twitter, Linkedin, email).

Google opens up on ad policing

Google runs one of the world's biggest digital ad networks, and it shows. It removed 5,900 ads per minute in 2020. That's 3.1bn ads for the mortals among us that cannot do the maths.

The Ads Safety Report was fairly dramatic this year, with Google contending with a rise in fraudulent ads, hate speech, a pandemic, a volatile election (or two) and increased national regulation. It's a good thing that Google shares these numbers. I only wish it would go into even greater detail.

Most interesting to me, Google removed ads from over 1.3bn pages (21m more than 2019). It took "site-level action" on nearly 1.6m publishers.

This list of publishers would be an interesting – and long – read. We know the tech doesn't always get it right.

Read it here.

Dentsu's iProspect swallowed Vizeum - what happens now?

Most of the ad networks struggled in 2020 (we document that here). Some can't manage the scale, others have lost their soul and won't use the word 'advertising' on their home page.

For Dentsu, the coming changes are bold. "We simply have too many brands – almost 300 across Japan and internationally," Toshihiro Yamamoto, president and chief executive officer at Dentsu Group, said last year.

He's now chopped that down into six pillars. Fast-forward and we've seen iProspect swallowing Vizeum to form a "performance-driven brand-building" media agency – which, to some, are conflicting objectives.

Global president Amanda Morrissey talked us through what's ahead for the 8,000 staff at the new group. More here.

Healthy margins

With The Drum's recent Health focus coming to a close, I explored some of the shifts in US and UK health ad spend in 2020, with help from Nielsen and Kantar.

We found that many fitness brands were playing ad spend catch-up in 2021 after a locked-down year, while smartwatch advertising increased by a third. For the rest of the year, we could all be fitter and heavier – there's a boom ahead.

Read it here.

TikTok developments

Big month for TikTok. First, it embedded with Shopify to enable social commerce. Now, it has expanded its brand safety tools from the US to the UK, Australia and Canada to meet the standards expected by top advertisers.

It now essentially rates content, giving each video a safety level – something that Twitch is experimenting with.

It's a contentious issue. In China, Bytedance moderators were famously instructed to suppress posts created by users deemed too ugly, poor or disabled for the platform, which is claimed was to manage "bullying". That was rightly met with widespread anger.

Now, in the name of brand safety, OpenSlate's algorithm is monetising creators deemed safe on a set of pre-selected criteria. OpenSlate says it can "identify and align with the best environments for your brand message", by analyzing content and giving the content ratings.

One hopes these "best environments" are different from the blunt criteria once shared by a younger Bytedance in China.

Read that here.

Channel 4 on TikTok

Next, UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 is taking its content to TikTok. Content from Hollyoaks, Made in Chelsea and Pete & Sam's Reality News will make the cut as part of the newly minted 'Future4' digital strategy. Remember earlier this year when chief marketing officer Zaid Al-Qassab told The Drum: "we are genuinely platform agnostic"?

Expect more content to follow audiences into social, but it's not a gesture of philanthropy. Last year it launched a social studio to make use of its huge and growing social presence to give brands a slice of the action.

From around the web

That's all for this week. If you missed the last issue, read it here. And you can subscribe to our other briefings here.