Ariana Grande might have belted out a few songs at YouTube’s Brandcast on Thursday, but not even she could drown out the lingering chatter about YouTube’s massive brand safety crisis last year.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki sought to assuage advertisers who might still be wary of the video platform by addressing the issue early and briefly, noting that YouTube has 1.8 billion logged-in users.
“It’s incredibly important to me that we grow responsibly,” she told the crowd of ad buyers at Radio City Music Hall. “There isn’t a playbook for how open platforms can operate at scale.”
Wojcicki emphasized that YouTube had instituted human reviews on Google Preferred, which represents the top YouTube videos, and that she hopes to have both machine learning algorithms and ten thousand people by the end of 2018 to remove objectionable content.
Having made its pledge to brand safety, YouTube then positioned Google Preferred as the night’s major advertising opportunity.
Wojcicki reiterated an announcement made in a blog post last Sunday that, as of next broadcast season, advertisers will be able to buy against the cable TV content hosted on YouTube TV through Google Preferred.
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl noted that through Google Preferred, advertisers can buy against all of Vevo – a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.
But will associating with premium content help YouTube grab premium ad budget That remains to be seen.
Vevo Chief Sales Officer Kevin McGurn told AdExchanger last month that brands typically buy sponsorships through Vevo, then use Google Preferred to get more reach.
There’s also the issue of YouTube treating user-generated and premium content equally. For instance, TrueView ad rates are the same. McGurn took issue with the fact that YouTube determines the price of ads, when that decision should reside with the content maker.
But if there’s one thing YouTube advertising has going for it, it’s proof that it drives sales. Wojcicki claimed that 70% of YouTube campaigns drove lift in offline sales. YouTube has a new partnership with Nielsen Catalina Services, so marketers can test it for themselves.
To drive home the point, Kellogg’s executive Deanie Elsner – with the enviable title of President of US Snacks – trotted on stage to discuss how Kellogg’s increased its YouTube spend 300% since last year.
“As we navigate our path to the future, we’re grateful to have YouTube as a partner,” she said.