YouTube courts advertising on 'edgy' content after tightening brand safety

Roll-out for 2020 follows trial of yellow icons for brands comfortable with advertising against adult-only content.

YouTube: tightened brand safety controls last year
YouTube: tightened brand safety controls last year

YouTube is testing new advertising options that will enable brands to reach users watching "edgy" content that would not be deemed universally brand-safe.

The move follows several brand-safety scandals for the Google-owned video giant in which high-profile brands suspended advertising after being placed against inappropriate content.

YouTube is working to identify advertisers that are interested in "edgier content", YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki said, such as marketers who are looking to promote movies rated 18 (or R in the US).

"We’re also running experiments to help match content that could be considered edgy with advertising that fits their brand," Wojcicki added. "As you know, yellow icons are a signal that only limited advertising can run on a particular video because of its content."

YouTube tightened its brand controls last year in the wake of brand-safety problems, but it is now looking to build more options. A number of brands suspended advertising after ads were served on child exploitation videos and extremist content.

The platform is also expanding its self-certification pilot to more creators next year, allowing YouTube creators to self-report how their videos comply with ad policies.

Wojcicki explained: "It’s a reinforcing process: the more accurate you are in your self-reporting, the more our system trusts you. Not only does self-certification give creators more control, it also provides specific feedback on why a video might have monetisation issues.

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