GroupM Partners with OpenSlate to Mitigate YouTube Brand Safety Risks

Group MGroupM, the media investment management unit of WPP, announced it is partnering with OpenSlate, a YouTube analytics platform, to enhance brand safety on their YouTube media buys. The move follows the recent controversy over brand safety on YouTube, which started with an article on The Times that showed how the ads of various brands were be run against content featuring ISIS and far-right propaganda. The issue has since snowballed into an advertiser boycott of YouTube featuring everyone from Verizon and Johnson & Johnson right through to Walmart, PepsiCo. and HSBC.

OpenSlate is a social video analytics company that maintains data about all ad-supported content on YouTube, which enables them to score YouTube content for quality and brand safety, whilst also providing additional contextual insights. The company will provide clients of GroupM’s agencies additional controls and content safeguards to support their YouTube media buys.

OpenSlate say that their solution will enhance brand safety in both reservation media, including Google Preferred, and in auction-based inventory bought through AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager. Using independent data from OpenSlate, GroupM clients will be able to better define the type of content that should be excluded from their YouTube media buys. Finally, OpenSlate will also provide clients with contextual reporting that highlights exactly where their campaigns run.

“Long gone are the days when advertisers could simply rely on reaching audiences in carefully curated programming environments. Most brands today have scaled their advertising on digital platforms like YouTube, where most content is user-generated, but their needs for mature and safe ad products and environments persist.” said Susan Schiekofer, chief digital investment officer, GroupM North America. “Although it is not possible to eliminate all risks in user-generated media, our clients’ hard-won brand reputations must be protected with the best efforts possible. We appreciate that Google is enabling our work with OpenSlate to provide our clients with better brand safety controls, and we believe it’s essential that all digital platforms carrying ad-supported user-generated content do the same.”

“Our initial focus is to use OpenSlate data to better ensure that GroupM’s ads run only in content that flexibly matches the brand safety parameters established by their clients,” said OpenSlate CEO Mike Henry. “Every client is unique and each has different brand values and tolerance for risk, whichGroupM agencies can accommodate through their use of OpenSlate’s data and tools. Over time, more transparency about where ads are running on YouTube will strengthen the ecosystem and help advertisers better understand the role that YouTube content plays in campaign performance.”

OpenSlate say the new solution will initially roll out in the US and UK, and plans are underway to adapt it to additional international markets.

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