What was once an issue mostly contained to the UK is now being recognized on a global scale: ads appearing next to questionable — and sometimes even unsafe — content online. Over the past week, Google released a series of statements for better control over where advertisers’ videos appear. These expanded safeguards are designed to prevent ads from appearing with “content that doesn’t align with (the advertiser's) values.”

Immediate actions to protect your brand

There are a variety of ways to help control where your ads appear. Used together, these tools can go a long way in safeguarding your ads from being aligned with any harmful content.

  • Site-specific exclusions
  • Channel-specific exclusions
  • Video topic exclusions
  • Keyword exclusions
  • Category exclusions

Strike Social employs a continuously updated master list, using all of the above controls that are currently available. These controls are leveraged with each campaign we run to ensure our clients’ ads are only served along brand-safe content. Additional restrictions are put into place depending on each brand’s guidelines.

Ad policy changes

On March 21, 2017, Google announced that it would be expanding its current safeguards for advertisers. Part of this change was increased accountability around ad policies.

Tougher stance on unsafe content

Google says it is increasing its scrutiny around “hateful, offensive and derogatory content,” which includes “removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.” Along with tightening partner standards, Google will be updating its community guidelines. This change will not only further restrict what content can be monetized but also what content can even be posted on YouTube.

Tightened restrictions on YouTube Partner eligibility

The YouTube Partner Program lets creators monetize their channels. Part of the eligibility for this program is the need for quality, advertiser-friendly content that complies with YouTube’s terms of service and community guidelines.

Google will be tightening standards on this program to ensure only legitimate, complying creators are able to include ads alongside their videos.

Expanded brand safety controls

Expanded default exclusions

This change will restrict what type of content ads can appear on by default. It will exclude “potentially objectionable content.” If advertisers wish, they can remove some of the default restrictions by opting in to advertising on broader types of content.

Simplified and enhanced exclusion management

Account-level controls are being introduced in order to make sweeping changes to where ads can appear. This will increase the ease at which advertisers can manage brand safety standards for campaigns running on AdWords for Video and Google Display Network. By managing general exclusions on an account level, this change will ensure consistency across all campaigns and allow further exclusions to be made quickly. Additional “more fine-tuned controls” will be put into place to enable advertisers to become more selective about where their ads are displayed.

Ensuring your brand is safe

Leveraging these current controls — combined with Google’s rapid response to flagged content (98% of which is reviewed within 24 hours) — should allay many advertisers’ concerns. Google’s increased focus on the issue also leaves less room for error. Investing in the time and resources to create a comprehensive set of exclusions will mitigate the risks of ads appearing next to unsafe videos even further. As a final step, Strike Social can apply Google-approved, third-party tracking tags that measure brand safety.

Jason Nesbitt

Jason Nesbitt

Jason Nesbitt is VP of Media & Agency Operations at Strike Social, where he oversees a global media-buying division that manages 15,000+ campaigns daily. He holds an MS in Advertising from the University of Illinois.