Did YouTube Just Step Up On Brand Safety -- Finally?

Last year wasn't a great time for YouTube, to say the least. The site has been in the crosshairs of a campaign by The Times to confront Google for allowing terror videos to not only be hosted, but for top brands to have their advertising running against it.

Two boycotts later and it seems today the site is finally in the growing-up stage. To be fair, it showed signs of striving for maturity last year with a commitment to more detailed checking of videos and a commitment to take offending material down earlier.

However, today we have news of a new, tangible approach to crack down on unsavoury posters.

To be honest -- and as at least one commentator tells the BBC this -- it seems a little late, and an obvious strategy that it could have launched some time ago. Nevertheless, today we hear that YouTube will not allow a video publisher to receive advertising on their posts unless they have 1,000 subscribers. Furthermore, their videos need to have been viewed for 4,000 hours or more.

We also have the announcement that its Google Preferred programme will now be manually verified from March. So in theory, you don't get another Logan Paul moment. His huge following meant that big brands were paying to be next to a video in which he showed a lack of sensitivity to the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan. He has since been dropped from the programme by YouTube.

There's more. We have also heard today that YouTube is opening up its mobile app so advertising effectiveness can be measured by Nielsen. 

Taking these measures one by one, it seems an obvious move to only allow people to receive advertising after they have produced videos of a high enough quality that sufficient members of the public are signed up to watch more. It guards against someone posting extremist videos being cut off and immediately setting up another account and embarrassing brands that inadvertently advertise against another slew of inappropriate material.

The same goes for the Google Preferred announcement, although it will be interesting to see how YouTube, the ultimate automated video advertising service, handles manual checking. That's an awful lot of video to get through. It's only right they should check it, as this is where the big guys put their budget -- but how sustainable manual verification is will remain to be seen.

More openness to having the effectiveness of advertising measured in-app as well as on mobile browsers can only be a good thing too. Video metrics have come under a lot of scrutiny in the past year, and so opening up to measurement tools must be a good thing.

So there you have it -- a good news story about YouTube. No need to adjust your sets. This is simply YouTube, eventually, reacting to last year's merited furor over a lack of brand safety measures. It's a little late, but at least Google has acted. 

It goes without saying that it only acted when the public outcry -- and more particularly, an outcry from brands -- forced its hand. But at least it has now acted.

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