How Twitter Will Ensure Brand Safety For Video Advertisers In 2019

As Twitter’s video ad business grows, so does the amount of user-generated content on its platform. The challenge for Twitter, and brands that advertise on it, is to keep brands safe from, well, the Internet.

In April 2018, 50% of Twitter’s business came from video advertising – and that still holds true today. In Q1 2018, the company made at least $287 million from video ads, according to Recode.

AdExchanger caught up with Sarah Personette, Twitter’s VP of global client solutions at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, to learn how the social media giant plans to grow its video ad business even more in 2019.

AdExchanger: What’s the current state of video advertising on Twitter?

SARAH PERSONETTE: The world has become mobile, and mobile has increasingly become video. We made a pretty significant investment in making our video products stronger, better and more performant. And with that, in-stream video sponsorships, in-stream video ads and website video cards are driving the bulk of our business.

Over 50% of our business is coming from video at this point. We believe that this will continue into 2019 as consumer behavior shifts there, but also as the demand from brand advertisers continues for using video to tell great creative stories. But [they] also want brand-safe, premium quality, scaled content that they can integrate their brands into, which is what our products offer.

With so much user-generated content on Twitter, what are you doing to help brands ensure their content stays safe?

There are a few ways that we do this. One is from a machine-learning perspective, making sure that we have the right tools and protocols in place to provide the right type of environment for [brands].

We also [ensure brand safety] from a content perspective. We have over 950 content partnerships right now that we’ve done in 2018 alone, and we’ve just launched five more partnerships at CES. The integration of brands into this brand-safe content, where they can choose which publishers they are associated with or which genres of content they’re associated with, also ensures a brand-safe, high-quality premium video environment.

What do some of those video partnerships entail?

On Monday we announced a partnership with PGA. We’re extending our coverage into the weekends. On Tuesday we launched our partnership with Fox Sports and the Women’s World Cup in Paris. I’m particularly excited about that because it helps to celebrate women in sports.

We have also launched with BuzzFeed. We are continuing a renewal of “AM2DM.” It’s an incredible example of a publisher understanding the fast, fun, real-time conversant nature of the platform, and they do it exceptionally well.

We also announced a partnership with The Ringer. We have done some work with them on “Game of Thrones,” and we’re also taking that to another show, “Big Little Lies.”

With all these new partnerships, are you thinking about any new ad units you’re going to roll out?

Not at the moment. Our ad units, between the in-stream sponsorships and in-stream ads, are doing exceptionally well for advertisers, so we’ll continue to focus on building the best, most performant tech stack to help propel that inventory forward.

Do you plan on doing anything in the programmatic space more in 2019?

Not at this time.

What do you think is the most powerful aspect of Twitter for advertisers?

The power of Twitter is our audience. It is the most leaned-in, receptive and valuable audience, because Twitter is what’s happening. We’ve found that our advertisers are really successful when they’re launching something new on the platform and when they’re connecting with what’s happening in the moment.

Our advertising capabilities are designed to drive business objectives across the entire purchase funnel.

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6 Magazine CEOs, 4 Strategies: How To Survive and Succeed!

The magazine industry is consolidating in the face of multiple challenges.

Rather than the newsstand, competition is coming from social platforms. Marketers want the performance advertising sold by key digital players. And as print circulation declines, magazines struggle to maintain the steady revenue from their direct-to-consumer subscription businesses.

The CEOs and presidents of Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, Bonnier, Active Interest Media (AIM) and New York Media spoke Tuesday at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City about how they are addressing these challenges. In recent years, Rodale and Time Inc. CEOs took the stage – but those companies are now part of Hearst and Meredith, respectively.

1. Evolving to serve performance advertisers

Magazines are struggling to prove their value to marketers who know and love their content but need to prove ROI in a more concrete, logical way.

“There is a disconnect between what [marketers] think and feel [about the magazine experience] and … the KPIs and marketing science,” said Andrew Clurman, president and CEO of AIM.

Bonnier has incredibly old brands, but today it’s focused on connecting that editorial authority to the engagement and results that brand voice can create.

“Gone are the days of leading with how iconic or old your brands are in today’s performance-based environment,” said Bonnier CEO Eric Zinczenko.

The magazine CEOs said they were focusing on building first-party data assets and using this data to diversify their own businesses or help advertisers.

Condé Nast, for example, is investing in its data platform – and if it makes an acquisition, it will be driven by data, not a magazine brand, said CEO Robert Sauerberg Jr.

“We are in a world where whether we like it or not, more money is being spent on performance-based advertising,” he said. “We built a database business 25 years ago. We have been doing this forever. One of the things this industry can do is to use our first-party data to create some targeting.”

2. Paid content

As revenue from print advertisers declines, magazines want to boost subscription revenue.

Meredith’s Magnolia Journal earns 95% of its revenue from consumers, not advertisers. “Usually, it’s 60-40 the other way,” noted Tom Harty, president and CEO of Meredith.

At Condé Nast, The New Yorker is a standout in convincing readers to pay for its expensive-to-produce content, including a recent scoop about Harvey Weinstein.

“Our culture is about getting these stories right,” Sauerberg said. “Creating really great premium content that consumers will pay for its very expensive, hard and time-consuming.”

But such efforts are paying off, even online: “We have one of the most successful paywalls in the world, and it’s growing 40% a year,” Sauerberg said.

First-party data helps in this realm, too. New York Media is building up its data and analytics to help advertisers, and it’s expanded into events, where it can get its readers to pay for cultural experiences like the Vulture Festival.

“We have taken the understanding of why our audience is attracted to us and applied it to building new businesses and developing new brands,” said New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein.

3. Brand safety

Magazine CEOs see an opportunity with Facebook’s and Google’s challenges policing their content.

“All these CMOs are saying, ‘I had no idea my content was showing up here and here and here – next to terrorists and Nazis,’” Wasserstein said. “Magazine brands are not only brand-safe but brand-enhancing. It’s a step beyond.”

Magazine media companies are also trying to position themselves as more authoritative than digital media startups.

“We have to remind our clients that smaller startups know if they don’t cut a corner sometimes, they won’t show revenue growth … and might go out of business,” Hearst Magazines President David Carey said. “We need to reinforce that [magazine] companies play for the long term.”

4. Revenue diversification

Magazine companies don’t plan on always relying on advertising to bring in revenue. Instead, they are turning to both conventional and surprising sources of revenue.

Case in point: AIM, which publishes Practical Horseman and American Cowboy, also sells horse trailer insurance. To further diversify, the company, which also publishes magazines about skiing and yoga, is applying its expertise in content and video to create online training and certifications.

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YouTube Is Finally Addressing Brand Safety Fears With These 3 Changes

After nearly a year of complaints from advertisers concerned about their ads appearing alongside questionable content and a slew of its biggest influencers going rogue on the platform, YouTube is revamping its policies for how creators make money off of their videos.

Over the past year, YouTube has tweaked several of its policies, upping the requirement for channels to hit 10,000 views, for example, and adding more staffers to vet videos. Still, brand safety has quickly become a more mainstream problem for brands. As of just last week at CES, execs were quick to point to brand safety concerns as among their biggest gripes with Google and Facebook.

“While we took several steps last year to protect advertisers from inappropriate content, we know we need to do more to ensure that their ads run alongside content that reflects their values,” wrote Paul Muret, vp of display, video and analytics at YouTube, in a blog post.

Here are the three steps YouTube is taking:

1. Buh-bye programmatic premium ads

Google Preferred, YouTube’s program that allows brands to only run ads against the most popular 5 percent of content, is billed as the site’s top-tier program for the its most premium content.

While those ad buys are limited to a small section of video channels, creators’ individual videos are not vetted. That can be a problem for brands: Think Logan Paul’s controversial “Suicide Forest” video that got the star kicked out of Google Preferred or PewDiePie’s anti-Semitic messages that caused brands to back away from his videos.

To avoid such problems, YouTube is now manually screening each individual video for Google Preferred channels, which should cut down on the number of lone videos that make their way through YouTube’s programmatic pipes. According to Google, Google Preferred channels and videos in the U.S. will be vetted by mid-February and will be finished globally by the end of March.

2. Moving beyond views

Until now, creators were given permission to be part of YouTube’s Partner Program—in other words, how people make money off of clips—based on how many views a channel had.

Although YouTube did increase the requirement to 10,000 total views in April, “it’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads,” Muret wrote.

Now YouTube channels will need to amass 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in a one-year period to run ads. Both new and existing channels will have to meet the new requirements, which go into effect on Feb. 20.

In addition to views, YouTube staff will also monitor spam, community strikes and flags of abuse as qualifiers for whether or not a channel can make money off of clips.

According to Google, 99 percent of the channels that will be affected by the new guidelines make less than $100 from advertising every year, meaning the vast majority of channels affected do not make much money off of YouTube.

3. Tiered media buys

YouTube is rolling out a three-tiered system for brand safety that allows brands more transparency into where their ads appear.

One option caters to brands that are sensitive about where their ads appear. On the other end, a broad-based option lets brands buy ads across a bigger section of videos. The middle option—which is the default option—plays between, with targeted ads that still reach a significant number of channels.

Whether or not the changes will cause brands to pour more money and trust into Google has yet to be seen, but agencies see the moves as important steps from one of the world’s biggest advertising platforms.

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YouTube suspends Channel Over Child Exploitation Video Concerns

YouTube is facing a fresh brand safety crisis as a number of brands have suspended advertising on the platform after it emerged their ads were run against content showing exploitation of young children. Brands including O2, Which? and Dropbox have suspended advertising on YouTube after The Times and The Sun flagged a series of ad enabled videos showing children in pain and distress. YouTube responded by removing one of the offending channels, and removing or demonetising the videos highlighted by the two newspapers.

YouTube has spent the year recovering from previous brand safety concerns, where advertisers found their ads were playing alongside extremist content, leading around 250 companies to stop advertising on the platform. Many have since returned, convinced by YouTube’s efforts to tighten its content filtering, but now doubt is being cast again on its ability to control its content as large channels featuring monetised disturbing content involving children have been pulled into the spotlight.

The Times singled out a channel called Toy Freaks which has run since 2011 and drawn over seven billion views where a man posted videos of pranks he pulled on his two young daughters, causing them pain and distress, as well as bizarre footage of him and his daughters crawling around and spitting liquid on each other. The Sun described some of the videos, which have since been taken down, where the man filmed his daughters screaming in distress at frogs and snakes being placed in a bathtub with them, and crying after being spoonfed baby food. YouTube analytics specialist SocialBlade estimates the channel could have earned anywhere between £544k to £8.7m per year.

Belinda Winder, a forensic psychologist and head of the sexual offences unit at Nottingham Trent University told Times that some of this content is designed to appeal both to children and to adults “who are not simply paedophilic but who also suffer from sexual fetishes involving pain and abuse”.

YouTube has now taken down the Toy Freaks channel and blocked or demonetised similar disturbing content on other channels, and says it will redouble its efforts to filter out and remove this type of content. “We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment” it said in an official statement. “We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern. It’s not always clear that the uploader of the content intends to break our rules, but we may still remove their videos to help protect viewers, uploaders and children. We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies. We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert Trusted Flaggers.”

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Twitter’s Prager: Video Gives Advertisers Premium Safety

Twitter says it wants to help down-play shady user-generated content (UGC) in the advertising offerings it serves up to big agencies.

in this video interview with Beet.TV, Twitter agency development director Stephanie Prayer says the network is trying to soothe brands’ concerns over the safety of environments in which ordinary folk publish their own content.

“Twitter can solve a lot of their brand safety concerns,” she says. “We have really stringent abuse policies. Coupled with the machine learning that we’re starting to use, any not-safe content on the platform is removed instantly.

“We’re doubling-down on video because it brings us the ability to bring in a depth of content that’s premium and publisher-based. We can weed out the UGC and make this an environment that’s safe for advertisers, to alleviate a lot of concerns.”

Twitter has been less impacted than YouTube by this year’s consternation over the appearance of brand advertisers’ messages against questionable content.

But the social service is also on its own mission to gobble higher video ad CPMs by launching a range of video services and partnerships live.

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Contextual Brand Safety: Now What?

On Feb. 9, The Times, one of oldest and most venerable newspapers in the world, ran a story titled “Big brands fund terror.” It dedicated an additional four-page spread to the subject of brands’ advertising funding inappropriate and illegal activities on YouTube. Brands were named.

Did clients overreact to the situation by pausing advertising on YouTube? When your brand, the cornerstone of your offering and most precious asset, is in danger of being called out in the mainstream press, it seems more than sensible to pause advertising on YouTube until you understand the risk. So, no, clients were right to be cautious. The risks of reputational damage far outweigh the risk of underdelivering on a campaign for most brands.

While most clients are carefully considering dipping their toe back into the water using enhanced tools to keep their brands safer, some clients will simply reason that even the smallest risk is not worth taking, and they will seek audience reach in safer places.

Google’s Response

Any response would rarely be deemed good enough when reacting to a crisis like this. Given that Google had to absorb the situation, respond at a global level and revert with tangible solutions, I think that it did a pretty good job.

However, the industry must keep up the pressure on solutions – this problem is far from over.

Did Google go far enough? Not by a long chalk. However one may rationalize the difficulty in managing the stupefying levels of uploads that Google processes every minute, it is still Google’s responsibility to keep advertisers safe on its platform. The industry expects Google to use its massive resources and technical acumen to tackle this problem. We may intellectualize that there is no such thing as 100% assurance on an uncurated social platform like YouTube, but brands expect a zero-tolerance approach to contextual brand safety.

Google and the other social media platforms should now let third-party measurement accompany ads onto their platforms to allow marketers to block ads from appearing with inappropriate content. Third-party technologies may not be perfect, particularly when it comes to video, but social media partners must realize that the industry will only be truly satisfied that we are doing what we can to detect and avoid inappropriate content if brand safety measurement is driven by objective, external verification companies. Surely if we open-source the challenge and work on a solution together, we will devise a better solution, faster – and with industry buy-in.

Other Uncurated Social Networks

The risk around contextual brand safety is not confined to GDN or YouTube. Any social network that allows users to upload uncurated social content has limited control of what appears on its platform. Some, like YouTube, may be deemed riskier because advertising can share the same screen as the inappropriate content, while others may be considered less harmful because the ads appear on the screen preceding or immediately following.

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