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YouTube Says Its Platform Is Now 'Brand Safe'

TV networks depend heavily on big brand marketing companies. Can you imagine if a major TV consumer marketer balked at buying a big broadcast network for two years, due to content issues?

That can’t happen. The 50 biggest TV network advertisers need scale and reach.

But AT&T has no problem doing it with perhaps the biggest digital video player: YouTube. It stopped advertising on YouTube in 2017 because its advertising appeared next to videos promoting hate speech, terrorism and other disturbing content.

AT&T was among the first companies to stop paying to advertise on YouTube, saying it wouldn’t return until changes were made. They have — and AT&T is back.

YouTube has since introduced a series of changes aimed at making the platform “brand safe.”

Conversely, major TV networks would never take such an action for any extended period -- not even for a week.

Some unexpected content on a questionable reality show, say on MTV? Sure, TV advertisers will depart. But they never really go away. You can typically find them buying programming on other MTV or Viacom network shows.

As for those advertisers that didn’t like what Tucker Carlson said on Fox News about immigrants? No problem. Fox runs their ads or makegoods elsewhere on the network --  other opinion-oriented prime-time fare or more straightforward daytime news content.

Even then, some advertisers that are dropping highly rated controversial national TV shows in specific instances will, at times, still find their way back.

Is it comparing apples and oranges -- especially when it comes to monitoring content? A couple of dozen shows on a traditional TV networks can be easy to examine versus millions of YouTube videos.

YouTube now says it has a better way to monitor videos with more human and automated oversight. It hasn’t gone into detail.

For years now, big digital video platforms have assured “brand safe” content for TV advertisers, only to see major snafus pop up.

Is this just the new normal?
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