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Feb 29, 2024

Brand safety is everything in the Wild West of YouTube advertising

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

YouTube is a digital advertising powerhouse and has been since its founding in 2005, and so are the creators on its platform. User creation is the heart of the video-sharing site’s business model, and it should be at the heart of advertisers’ strategy too.

For marketers looking to take their potential customers on a full-funnel journey, YouTube is a fantastic resource for connecting with audiences in a meaningful and effective way. McKinsey’s 2021 holiday survey showed that 57% of shoppers felt YouTube influenced their buying decisions. 

That said, YouTube can be a risky place to advertise if you don’t do it right. Anyone can upload anything onto the site, and some creators, while large, may not share content that fully aligns with your brand. 

While YouTube does its best to moderate the site and upkeep content policies, it isn’t perfect. Brands need to take the time to watch the content on which they’re advertising and to recognize the essential relationship between brand and creator. 

Relationships between creators and brands are essential on YouTube

While creator or influencer marketing is huge on YouTube, there are also fantastic programmatic opportunities on the platform, especially as sites like YouTube continue to occupy a larger share of the audience’s viewing time. 

Some marketers claim that brands have no relationship with creators or the material that ads are placed on in programmatic advertising. In one respect, that is true – brands do not deal directly with creators but buy ad space instead. However, there is a relationship between the two. 

When buying specific, influencer ad space on YouTube, is it vital that advertisers analyze who the creators are and what their content is like so that they can find the best fit for their brand. 

A great example to highlight the importance of this relationship is when Publicis ran ads for Fortune 500 company Novartis on videos from Matt Walsh, a well-known “internet troll.” The brand was quickly called out on X (formally Twitter) and LinkedIn for going against the brand values of its clients. 

Even when brands are not directly working with a creator, audiences are likely to still conflate the two, seeing a partnership no matter how indirect. Advertisers need to carefully consider the content they buy ad space on and how that relates to their brand values and the interests of their customers. 

There are several ways in which advertisers can target users on YouTube, and when using YouTube’s content targeting methods it is vital marketers carefully consider the channels, videos, and topics that are right for their target audience. 

YouTube lets marketers target channels and videos directly, which is a great way to effectively reach potential customers. It is also a great way to build meaningful relationships with creators and their audiences. 

When using this feature, marketers must watch the content they are choosing to advertise on; it isn’t enough to trust the creator or go off word of mouth. By watching the content, marketers can ensure that it aligns with their brand and the interests of their target audience. 

Targeting audiences on YouTube with programmatic advertising is a fantastic tool in an advertiser’s arsenal, but they need to make sure their aim is on point if they want to hit a bullseye. Advertising on YouTube is about more than interests, age groups, and locations – it’s about relationships. 

Advertisers who take the time to build relationships, even indirect ones, with YouTube pages and creators have a leg up on the competition. They can more easily avoid embarrassment, better capture their target audience, and create ads that fit seamlessly into the content they sit within. 


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