YouTube brand safety updates: Positive steps for both brands and consumers

The world’s second-largest social networking site YouTube announced last week that they are taking further steps to protect advertisers from inappropriate content, to ensure that their ads run alongside content that reflects their values.

Whilst there is, of course, plenty more work to be done on this front, the announcement represents a positive step forward in protecting both brands and viewers, after a tough 2017 for YouTube.

But what are the key changes involved in the latest announcement?

Google Preferred: Introducing manual reviews

The shake-up was announced just weeks after top YouTuber Logan Paul posted an inappropriate video to the site on New Year’s Eve. The 22-year-old was then dropped from YouTube’s paid channel YouTube Red and Google Preferred, and given a strike against his name.

Google Preferred was created to show off the most popular channels and to help brands reach their target audiences. Going forward, Google Preferred channels will be manually reviewed, which means that ads will only run on videos that have been approved by YouTube’s ad-friendly guidelines.

YouTube expects to complete the manual reviews of Google Preferred channels and videos by the middle of February in the US, and by the end of March in other countries where this service is offered.

New guidelines for the YouTube Partner Program

Starting from 16th January, YouTube announced a shake-up which means that new creators applying to the YouTube Partner Program will need to have accrued 4,000 hours of viewing time within the past 12 months, as well as having 1,000 subscribers, in order to be eligible to earn revenue from their channels.

These new requirements will officially come into place for existing channels next month, on 20th February, meaning that any channels falling below this threshold will no longer be able to run ads on their videos.

Following backlash from the creator community, YouTube issued a statement further explaining why changes to the monetisation structure were introduced.

“Our recent changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) are designed to curb bad actors, stabilise creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed. By making these updates to YPP, we aim to help creators of all sizes find more success. We have many free resources in place such as our Creator Academy and YouTube Spaces to help those just starting out to build a community around their channel so that they can ramp-up fast and monetise their videos.”

Greater transparency and control for brands

In order to simplify controls for brands, YouTube is also introducing a 3-tier suitability system that allows advertisers to reflect their level of conservatism, recognising potential reach trade offs.

They are also hoping to provide even more transparency to advertising partners; and are working with trusted vendors to provide third-party brand safety reporting on YouTube. The platform is currently in a beta with IAS, and they are planning to launch a beta with DoubleVerify soon.

Monitoring controversial content

YouTube is also becoming much stricter when it comes to controversial content. They announced in December that they’re in the process of growing their teams working to address violative content to over 10,000 across Google by the end of 2018. YouTube will also be making some changes by doubling their staff of in-house controversial content subject matter experts to inform and set policies for their review teams.

Their new team will use social media signals, user flags and other data to detect emerging trends in controversial content threats before they become a threat. And they’re going to offer more transparency on removals, policy enforcement and user flags in a new report each quarter.


To sum up, the changes announced are a positive step forward for brands and viewers alike, and will ultimately give both advertisers and consumers greater control and support. The new measures demonstrate that YouTube is taking its responsibilities with regards to brand safety seriously, and aiming to set an example for the rest of the industry. It will be interesting to see how these new measures develop over the year, and how successfully YouTube can combine human and machine learning to roll out the changes at scale.

by Maz Hussain
23 January 2018



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