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Five Charts Explaining the State of Brand Safety

YouTube is in the middle of another brand safety conundrum, but this time around the platform is making news for being proactive.

On July 26, YouTube removed four videos from Infowars—a digital publisher and dietary supplement empire run by Alex Jones that promotes outrageous conspiracy theories—and banned it from live streaming on its platform for 90 days. YouTube issued a statement that said Infowars violated its hate speech policies.

It was just a little over a year ago that several brands took their ads off YouTube in response to a report that The Times of London published about brand ads appearing in YouTube videos that promoted terrorism. Many of these advertisers came back to YouTube, but the ad industry hasn’t stopped talking about brand safety. The topic is so popular that a new trade group, Brand Safety Institute, launched July 25.

Here’s a quick look at the state of brand safety.

In June, Iponweb and ExchangeWire surveyed 129 media agency professionals worldwide and found that about six in 10 of those who built their own ad tech view brand safety as a major challenge of programmatic.

Just over half of the 332 UK digital advertising professionals surveyed by Integral Ad Science in March said that brand safety will be a greater concern for them in 2018 than it was in previous years. The only issue that caused marketers more anxiety was the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), cited by nearly two-thirds of respondents.

Some marketers believe brand safety threatens how they operate. In a March survey of 1,118 marketers worldwide conducted by Rakuten Marketing, 41.1% of US respondents said that brand safety is one of the issues that poses the greatest threat to their marketing.

There are various actions advertisers can take to protect their ads from appearing next to controversial content. According to a May survey of 300 US agency respondents conducted by Trusted Media Brands and Advertiser Perceptions, the most common tactic is applying a blacklist to media buys.

But despite how much attention brand safety gets at industry events and from advertising lobbyists, many advertisers do not put many resources toward controlling where their ads run. In an October 2017 Warc survey of more than 600 marketing and advertising professionals worldwide, nearly half of the respondents disagreed with the notion that brands would reduce their digital ad spend if brand safety, viewability and fraud aren’t resolved. Only about a third agreed that digital ad spend will decline if these problems persist.