ANA Issues YouTube Advisory, Tells Google ‘To Do No Harm’

ANA Issues YouTube Advisory, Tells Google ‘To Do No Harm’

In an ironic twist for a company whose corporate motto is “do the right thing,” the Association of National Advertisers issued an advisory warning members about the brand safety of YouTube and reminding its parent Google that the top priority for any platform used by brands is “to do no harm.”

The advisory comes after a number of big ANA members pulled their advertising from YouTube when it was discovered that they were being placed adjacent to unsafe content, including hate speech and “terrorist-oriented” Web sites.

“Their concerns for their brands well-being is rational, appropriate and warranted,” ANA CEO Bob Liodice states in an advisory sent to members Friday morning.

“No marketer should ever place its brand at risk,” he continued, adding: “All agency and media partners should recognize that — above all other objectives — protecting the brand should stand head and shoulders above everything else.”

Liodice noted that there are many brand objectives when advertisers decide to utilize a platform, but “the most important of those priorities is ‘to do no harm.’”

The statement appears to be a clear dig at Google, whose corporate motto was “don’t be evil” until it restructured as Alphabet and changed its motto to “do the right thing.”

“We view brand safety issues as an unfortunate example of the many challenges that exist throughout the digital media supply chain,” Liodice continued, describing the YouTube brand safety fallout as a “current crisis,” and adding it to a list of ANA member issues including “fraud and risk, reduced transparency, sub-optimum measurement and nebulous productivity” that is contributing to a “dearth of trust” among big brand marketers.

“We urge our members, their agencies and their media partners to work energetically to rectify these concerns and improve the quality of the digital media supply chain,” Liodice concluded.

The statement comes as some analysts and industry executives expect the fallout to steer ad budgets away from YouTube and the ilk, back to more established and proven brand-safe ad environments such as conventional TV advertising.

“More than 250 advertisers globally have now pulled their adverts from the platform and, given we expect more stories to appear re adverts shown around extremist material, we expect more to follow,” the equity research team at U.K.-based Liberum wrote in an advisory sent to analysts and the press early this morning.

“Broadcasters should benefit from this row,” they continued, adding: “At the very least, the growing issue is likely to make advertisers wary of shifting money from TV to YouTube.”

The YouTube fallout comes just as big advertisers begin planning for their budgets for 2017-18 upfront and “NewFront” advertising negotiations for the upcoming year.

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