Google has clandestinely stopped serving its TrueView discover ads within mobile search results or “related video” results on video watch pages within the YouTube network temporarily. Unfortunately for Google, these ads have been paused until better measures are implemented to prevent videos from being shown next to offensive and extremist content, which is an issue that has been plaguing its video advertising platform for months. As discussed in a previous blog post, the search engine giant is investing time and resources into deploying filters and feedback tools to identify objectionable content within organic search results, which is also known as Project Owl. However, the issue has become quite troublesome within the advertising spectrum, as major brands have scaled back spend, and in some cases, halted campaigns indefinitely with Google until the aforementioned issues are resolved and safeguards are implement to ensure brand protection.
The TrueView discovery ads show up within mobile search results, suggesting “related videos” to users as they peruse YouTube. However, unless specific criteria is selected within campaign targeting, videos can be displayed next to objectionable and extremist content, indirectly associating brands with themes that may not resonate well with target audiences. While this association isn’t created intentionally by Google, brand perception is liable to change quite quickly when company logos are shown adjacent to offensive content. As a reuslt, major brands have begun to pause campaigns to prevent any further damage on a public relations end. Some of the major advertisers include::
YouTube promised to implement better measures on controlling where ads are shown in March, but major brands have been prudent, halting media spend until the issues are resolved. Of course, while Google has a plethora of advertisers using its platform, this is a recent trend that can lead to an exodus of clients, which is why a quick resolution is needed to appease its big spenders. With some of the aforementioned advertisers pulling out, it is estimated that Google is losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, which is a big enough incentive to update its ad serving for video ads.
The shutdown is expected to last only until the end of Q2 2017 and solely affect placements within YouTube’s network. For video advertisers, discovery ads are still available via Google’s Display network on partner sites. In-stream ads, the bane of many users’ existence, will be unaffected by recent developments, allowing brands to keep business as usual, infuriating users with pre-roll ads. All jokes aside, this recent development brings to light an inherent issue within search engines and social media networks: the need to monetize traffic while at the same time filtering content and placements to satisfy both users and advertisers. Major tech companies are beginning to penalize false content aggregators and users that upload extremist content in the hopes of improving the user experience. It should be interesting to see how this develops in the coming months, especially if Google continues to have issues with objectionable content in its ad platform.