The Times & YouTube: keeping your brand safe online

20 November 2017
This weekend The Times published the latest in a series of articles relating to videos on YouTube promoting inappropriate, offensive or extremist content.
This weekend The Times published the latest in a series of articles relating to videos on YouTube promoting inappropriate, offensive or extremist content.
Focusing on the YouTube channel Toy Freaks, which has now been taken down, the piece highlighted how inadequate control and monitoring procedures allowed Google to receive advertising revenue from videos which exploit young children. The article lists a number of brands (including an ISBA member) who had their advertising appear next to some of this content.
Online brand safety is a serious issue for marketers and one in which ISBA plays a key role. We are very concerned that YouTube’s policies and controls did not prevent this happening.
Advertisers were told earlier this year that the threshold above which You Tube content could be monetised was being raised. Google tells us that the channel was taken down as a result of a recent tightening of its policies to take a tougher stance on family friendly content that contains adult, sexual and/or obscene themes. The fact that this channel has been so popular for a number of years and has only now been deemed to be in breach of standards is disturbing.
We have been working with Google over the last year to ensure our member’s advertising is not associated with unsafe content and will continue to push for stricter controls and greater clarity on what content is open to monetisation. We believe advertisers are entitled to understand where Google has identified potential exposure and what future steps are planned to protect advertisers from content unsuitable for family viewing.
We have been speaking to affected advertisers today and offered guidance on how they can improve their brand safety online.


Steps you can take to avoid harming your brand online:

Ensure you and your agency have adopted industry best practice

  • All advertising which appears around user-generated content (UGC) carries risk. In order to mitigate this risk, we advocate that marketers reinforce their brand guidelines with their agency and partners and agree what content is appropriate for their brand. We recommend the use of brand safety /content verification tools that allow advertisers to control the sites on which their advertising appears.                 
  • ABC has certified three of these companies (comScore, Double Verify & IAS) against JICWEBS cross-industry agreed principles.         
  • Advertisers should ensure they update their keyword list regularly based on changes in current affairs, such as international disasters.
  • ISBA is a founder member of the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) and the Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) which certifies companies for their online brand safety processes. 61 companies are currently registered and either certified or currently undergoing certification.  
  • We are actively working with our trade body counterparts (IPA, IAB and AOP) within JICWEBS to further evolve the Brand Safety programme to ensure that the guidelines keep pace with industry developments and improve the safety of online advertising.
  • The ISBA Brand Safety Guide which gives advice and guidance on steps advertisers can take to mitigate the problem of online brand safety has been updated. A copy of the latest Guide can be found here

Review your contracts

  • ISBA’s Media Services Framework was launched in 2016 and provides members with a contractual foundation to ensure that best practice industry standards are applied in buying online media.
  • Additionally, the Framework enables advertisers to ensure that their agency is taking measures to adopt industry best practice, thereby limiting the risk of ad misplacement on ‘blacklisted’ sites, as determined by the advertiser or as listed on the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) ‘Infringing Website List (IWL). 
  • Find out more about the Framework here.

Engage with ISBA

  • ISBA provides a number of resources for members to ensure they get the most from their agency relationships. 
  • Our consultancy team provide confidential one-to-one advisory services, including guidance on how to implement the Framework Media Services Contract. In addition, we produce member-only guidance, outlining the best practice and resources in a number of areas including online brand safety. 
  • Our Digital Action Group addresses all these issues and aims to improve the digital media supply chain for our members. Contact David Ellison ( ) for more detail. 
  • For information on any of the resources above, please contact Jane Salliss.

These are just some of the actions you can take, however for further information and support, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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