YouTube Receives 'Brand Safe' Accreditation for Advertising

February 10, 2021
YouTube has scored one more point in the fight for digital advertising dollars. 
The Google-owned company received accreditation for brand safety from the Media Rating Council, a non-profit organization created in the 1960s to help self-regulate the media industries at the behest of the U.S. Congress. 
"This is really important for us because our customers have told us that having third-party validation of our brand safety systems was essential to them, and that's why we are humbled to be the first digital platform to reach this accreditation," YouTube's vice president of global solutions Debbie Weinstein told Cheddar. "With this accreditation in hand, we certainly remain relentlessly focused on brand safety and making sure we're prepared for whatever may come ahead."
YouTube is the first digital platform to receive the designation, which is specifically for ads sold through its owned-and-operated ad platforms, including Google Ads and YouTube Reserve among others but does not cover YouTube Kids and livestreamed content.
Brand safety, or the ability to ensure ads runs on appropriate places, has long been one of the holy grails in digital marketing. Because of the amount of content online, it often becomes hard to monitor where ads appear, and the fear is they could be placed next to unsuitable content. Companies worry that their products could be associated with these negative items. 
As the online discourse grows more divided and with misinformation rampant, some are concerned that digital media advertising may not be worth the risk despite the proof of its effectiveness and reach.
YouTube faced scrutiny in 2017 when reports showed several of its brand clients had their advertising run next to extremist and terrorist content, causing marketers to pull millions of dollars away from the platform. 
It has addressed the issue by working on technology, policy, and human solutions and has committed to ensuring 99 percent brand safety. After an audit process, the MRC agreed that the company has done so.
"We really rely on a framework we call our four Rs to make sure we are doing what we need to do on responsibility," Weinstein explained. "This starts with the first R which is removing content that violates our community guidelines. We're also looking to reduce borderline content while raising up authoritative voices, and finally, the piece that really matters to our advertisers is this piece around rewarding content that actually meets an even higher bar for brand safety."
This includes taking action against hot-button political rhetoric. Since the states certified the election results in early December, YouTube banned any content that falsely claimed they were fraudulent, including #StopTheSteal content. It further took action around the Capitol riots, especially trying to promote legitimate sources of information.
By receiving the MRC accreditation, it could potentially mean more companies will feel comfortable putting ad dollars on YouTube. Ad revenue for the platform was already up 46 percent year-over-year, according to parent company Alphabet's latest earnings report.
"This accreditation milestone is testament to YouTube's sustained commitment and investment to enable brands to advertise in safe environments on their platform," Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said in a statement. "We hope this experience inspires others to do the same, and that progress continues towards a responsible media supply chain."
Updated on February 9, 2021, at 12:07 p.m. ET with a correction clarifying the accreditation does not cover YouTube Kids and livestreamed content.
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