YouTube Touts 'Responsibility' At NewFront

At YouTube’s NewFront presentation (which the company calls its “Brandcast”) Thursday evening, the Google-owned video platform sought to reassure advertisers that it was a safe, effective place to spend their budgets. 

In her opening remarks at Radio City Music Hall, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki harped on the “responsibility” the company has “to viewers, creators, and advertisers.”

“With openness also comes challenges, as some have tried to take advantage of our services,” Wojcicki said. “This year we devoted tremendous resources to address these challenges and we are committed to continuing our investment going forward.

"It’s incredibly important to me and to everyone at YouTube that we grow responsibly. There isn’t a playbook for how open platforms operate at our scale. But the way I think about it, it’s critical that we are on the right side of history.”  

Wojcicki went over the actions the company has taken in the wake of recent brand safety controversies, including tightening the company’s monetization policies, and adding human review to videos in the Google Preferred service.

To reaffirm that commitment, the company played a clip reel of CMOs discussing how important YouTube was to their media buys, and even had Deanie Elsner, president of Kellogg’s snacks division, appear on stage to discuss how YouTube transformed how the company spent money on digital.

“These two campaigns [discussed in the show] not only transformed the way we think about digital -- but they completely flipped the paradigm of advertising campaigns across Kellogg’s,” Elsner said, noting that the company increased its spend on YouTube by 300% in the past year alone.

YouTube announced a couple of new advertising opportunities, including the ability to buy ads on linear cable channels offered by YouTube TV, through the Google Preferred service, and the ability to buy ads on TV screens though AdWords and DoubleClick. In addition, all music videos, including those through Vevo, can now be bought through Google Preferred.

YouTube also trotted out some major names to entice advertisers and media buyers to bring out their checkbooks. The company announced a live special that will feature actor Will Smith bungee jumping off of a helicopter above the Grand Canyon. Actress Priyanka Chopra, meanwhile, will star in a series where she meets inspirational people around the world. Other new projects included a documentary series from NBA star LeBron James, and a comedy show from comedian Jack Whitehall.

The company also renewed projects from musician Demi Lovato, and comedian Kevin Hart.

The show featured musical performances by Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande and OK Go. After the presentation attendees mingled in the rink and concourse at Rockefeller Center, munching on tater tots and lobster rolls.

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