YouTube quietly pauses search ads to implement brand safety measures

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Google has quietly paused its TrueView discovery ads that show up in mobile search results or as a “related video” on video watch pages on the service. The stoppage comes as YouTube works to implement additional brand safety measures promised in March after major advertisers in the UK and US pulled campaigns due to reports by The Times of ads appearing on extremist and objectionable content.

Rebecca Lynch of Publicis Health Media told Marketing Land that the agency learned of the move after inquiring earlier this week. A Google representative explained that pausing the discovery ads will help speed along infrastructure changes needed to implement new brand safety measures that will apply to all YouTube ad formats. The ads are expected to be offline until the end of Q2 2017. Marketing Land has reached out to Google for comment and will update here if and when we get a response. Discovery ad targeting is based on demographics and interests, which take into account search history and other factors.

Ads in YouTube search results are currently paused.

This change only affects the discovery ads that appear in the search results on YouTube. Discovery ads can still appear on video partner sites in the Display Network. They are also still showing up on the YouTube mobile home page at this point. TrueView in-stream ads — the skippable ads that typically run as pre-roll on other videos — and the six-second bumper ads are not affected by this change.

As part of the brand safety improvements, Google has said advertisers will have more visibility into where their video and display ads appear, be able to easily enable brand safety settings and have more fine-tuned control over where their ads appear, and default settings will change to automatically exclude ads from showing on potentially objectionable content. Last week, Google broadened the scope of its so-called hate speech policy, giving the company more discretion in determining whether video and site content can be monetized.

The full impact of the advertiser uproar that started at the end of March is not yet known. Advertising intelligence firm MediaRadar reported today that it saw a five percent drop in advertisers on Google Preferred YouTube premium channel content in April, the first month to show an advertiser decline so far in 2017. The firm also said that while Starbucks, Dish, AT&T and Pepsi were among advertisers that did stop YouTube ads in April, GM, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson and Walmart continued to advertise. GM advertised only on the YouTube homepage, however, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson ran ads on a variety of Google Preferred channels, where there are little-to-no adjacency safety issues.

About The Author

As Third Door Media’s paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.


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