Tag Archives: youtube

Lane Closure on the Super Information Highway

So, one guy in Michigan has caused 250+ brands to pause spending on YouTube, and he, ironically, has a patent to fix the issue if Google will buy it.

As news started to break two weeks ago about advertisements showing up next to hate groups and videos promoting terrorism, big brands like General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and Walmart have been quick to jump on the PR train and state that they’re pausing all YouTube spend until a fix is developed. There have been countless articles detailing all the happenings, pointing fingers, talking about the end of digital advertising as we know it, saying the entire approach is wrong and how to fix it.

Is this an issue? Yes, without a doubt. Should your agency and media partners be doing everything they can to stop this from happening? Yes, without a doubt. Does the issue run deeper than YouTube? Yes, without a doubt. Is this getting overblown in the always-on news cycle? Yes, without a doubt.

To understand the scale of YouTube, think about these stats:

  1. More than 1 billion people around the world – roughly a third of all people online – are YouTube users.
  2. YouTube is the second largest search engine, bigger than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL combined.
  3. According to eMarketer, 180 million of those people are from the U.S.
  4. 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  5. The average user session is 40 minutes.

Anytime you run ads on a website that’s full of user-generated content, it comes with a certain level of risk. Realistically, the problem runs much deeper than YouTube and is more of an online problem, although TV, radio and print have all had their fair share of ads being pulled over the years. The majority of digital ads are bought against an audience, not specific sites. Therefore, you’re opening yourself up to run on millions of channels or sites in order to deliver an ad to “adults 25-54 who drive a Cadillac, use Crest and have a dog.” According to an article in The New York Times, Chase Bank had been running on 400,000 sites. Clearly an unmanageable amount for anyone to monitor; hence, the need for technology to help classify those sites and the content on them. That’s where these digital filters come into play. Platforms like YouTube have tools in place to allow you or your agency to apply a certain level of brand safety, such as to blacklisting/whitelisting sites; excluding adult content; and now, thanks to our political system, you can block “FAKE NEWS” sites. While it’s the accuracy of these very tools that is being called into question, you should always go beyond them to ensure brand safety. If you don’t, it’s as if you’re allowing them to grade their own homework.

We at R&R Partners have longstanding partnerships with third-party verification experts such as DoubleVerify. We routinely layer on additional safety measures to not only ensure our clients’ ads are being seen, but also to safeguard against questionable content coming into play. Now, more than ever, marketers need advanced technologies to identify and protect against unsafe environments while confirming they’re targeting [human] audiences in order to deliver reliable and effective campaigns. While we do monitor our clients’ online campaigns on a regular basis, we also push for 100 percent transparency from our partners and, in turn, we’re 100 percent transparent with our clients. It’s safe to say nothing in the digital space will ever be perfect. However, we are confident in our approach, always investigating new technology and applying those learnings in real time to our clients’ business. We’ve taken a deep dive into both our largest and smallest YouTube campaigns and worked directly with Google and have yet to find any instances of ads running against this negative content.

Again, this goes far beyond YouTube, even into TV. However, they’re just the 800-pound gorilla, so they’re rightfully getting the brunt of the backlash. Just the other day, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai announced they are pulling ads from The O’Reilly Factor due to sexual harassment claims and settlement payments totaling $13 million. This has now expanded to over 30 brands.

So, to the guy in Michigan, I say, “Thank you.” Thank you for bringing an issue into the limelight and continuing to push our industry forward. We all must demand transparency and brand safe environments on behalf of our clients. Simply put, if you won’t be 100 percent transparent and open about your technology and ensure brand safety, you shouldn’t be on anyone’s media plan. It’s our responsibility as agencies to ensure that the tech platforms we partner with are built on these same standards.

Our approach is simple − build the brand and protect the brand.

NewFronts: Digital Content Previewed at Annual Conference

The month of May is the equivalent of the Super Bowl for brands and ad agencies. During this time, media companies announce direction for the coming year. The digital NewFronts were recently created as a means for publishers to gain greater attention and steal share from the television industry, which still commands a majority of ad dollars spent.

Time Inc stageI was fortunate to attend a variety of the NewFront presentations and identified some key themes that emerged.

Yahoo focus
  • Digital video is where it’s at. Publishers are focused on creating new online video franchises to compete for TV ad dollars. Depending on the publisher, advertiser opportunities range from custom co-branded videos to product integrations to sponsorship to pre/mid-roll placements. Publishers are investing in talent and quality production to swoon advertisers.
    • Examples of new video franchises include:
      • Big Problems/Big Thinkers – Bloomberg (@BloombergTV): Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and journalist Terre Blair have paired up to create a series with major politicians and leaders to discuss major world problems and potential solutions.
      • Chance – Hulu (@hulu): Hugh Laurie (House) will star in a psychological thriller as a neuroscientist.
      • Time 100, The Influencers – Time: Through interviews of unique pairings, such as President Barack Obama and ballet dancer Misty Copeland, influencers react to the impacts of each other’s work and accomplishments.
Hulu Mindy project
  • Virtual reality is the next big thing. While details are scarce at this point, publishers are ready to tap into the immerse experience that VR can provide.
    • Key announcements include:
      • Hulu enters into a partnership with Live Nation (@LiveNation), where they will make select concert performances available to VR users.
      • Time Inc. (@TimeInc) will begin releasing VR content on behalf of its brands such as Time, People and Sports Illustrated…including the fan-favorite, SI Swimsuit franchise.
Lindsey seeing VR at Time Inc


  • Live streaming expands. Key announcements were made with regards to live streaming, either as a platform for TV content or general entertainment.
    • Hulu will offer a new platform for live sports, news and events in early 2017 (price point has yet to be announced).
    • Yahoo is focused on live streaming sports free, without authentication. They will stream 400+ events in the next year, including a focus on MLB and NHL.
    • In the case of Buzzfeed (@BuzzFeed), utilizing Facebook Live has finally reached TV-like viewing scale. As of late April, the rubber band/watermelon experiment saw 800k+ concurrent views and 10MM+ total views. Live streaming will invite hiccups though, as many witnessed with the Facebook Live event with President Barack Obama. Some technical glitch on Facebook cut the live-streaming interview short, but thankfully they were simultaneously streaming on YouTube, so all was not lost.Buzzfeed video franchisesHulu stage

Note, I attended presentations for Buzzfeed, Bloomberg, Hulu, Yahoo, Time Inc. & YouTube, so examples are drawn from those presentations. For a full recap of the highlights, please see Cynopsis Media’s wrap-up from May 16th (here).


A beast that needs attention

Being the third most visited site in the world is not an easy task.  YouTube ranks just behind the giants of Google and Facebook as the most visited websites on the internet.  This comes as no surprise. The power for people to capture themselves through video is easy enough for a 3-year-old to manage, but how do brands and organizations leverage YouTube to their advantage?

Old Spice on YouTube

Old Spice’s YouTube brand channel.

According to YouTube, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which equates to 3 billion hours watched each month.  These types of numbers are mind-boggling and the ripple effect reaches far outside of YouTube itself.  More than 500 years of YouTube videos are watched on Facebook and 700 videos per minute find themselves on Twitter.

No doubt a powerful tool, but most brands upload their TV spots, or try to think of something so funny and outrageous hoping that it will be the next “viral video.”  Unfortunately, this is very difficult to achieve on YouTube.  While this can happen, you have better chances of taking the money you spent doing this and doubling down at the nearest casino.

Companies such as Old Spice, Red Bull, and Go-Pro have found that YouTube can help drive exposure, but they are the few that have found success.  Almost all companies find themselves spending a lot of money with little to no results, thus deeming it as a marketing failure.  To avoid complete and udder failure here are five starter tips for marketers and brands to follow:

1st – YouTube is its own platform; content should be unique and should be well thought out.

2nd –Make sure that you promote your video(s) through YouTube using Google platforms. Spend money to help get some eyeballs and help leverage your plan.

3rd– Make sure that you plan your strategy ahead of time. Are you looking for views or do you want people to take action?

4th– Consider using YouTube celebrities (people already on YouTube that have thousands to millions of views and subscribers) for brand integrations and product placements.

5th– Ensure that your YouTube plan fits well with branding and other marketing strategies; YouTube can help you leverage your current and future goals within social media.

Success on YouTube can be very challenging, but using these basic tips can help you get on the right track. YouTube is a platform that allows you to target the audience you want, which keeps advertisers coming back.  If you’re nice to YouTube it will be nice to you.