- An ad targeting tool that Google introduced to YouTube in the wake of the video platform's brand safety controversy earlier this year is no longer working, according to a report in MediaPost Communications.
- The tool allowed advertisers to find individual YouTube channels and even videos based on impressions and views for a more granular targeting approach that would avoid questionable or irrelevant channels. Jonathan Kagan, the senior director of search and biddable media at MARC USA Results: Digital, told MediaPost that Google confirmed to him that the feature isn't working but he said the company provided no specific timeline for a fix.
- Kagan suggested the problem might stem from Google shutting down AdWords keywords suggestions earlier this fall. For marketers, this makes the job of targeting desirable channels more cumbersome, turning what was aa five-minute task with the help of the tool into a three-hour-plus operation, per MediaPost.
For all the fervor over YouTube brand safety that erupted this spring, where advertisers in the U.K., U.S. and elsewhere halted their spend over ads appearing next to extremist content, the heat on the platform has appeared to have cooled considerably. The controversy never impacted Google's bottom line in any serious fashion, but there's no doubt that many marketers' faith in the site was shaken. New hiccups such as a broken targeting tool might stir a fresh wave of criticism and also lend weight to ongoing skepticism toward YouTube and the measures it's taking to ensure ads are running on videos that are both appropriate and relevant to businesses.
If these issues persist, and if Google can't ensure a brand-safe environment despite considerably changing its policies and hiring more human review staff, then marketers might migrate elsewhere. There's no shortage of competition in the space, especially as social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat push into producing more premium video content.
The tool appeared to be a way to address some of the more labor-intensive aspects of filtering particular channels or types of channels on YouTube that an advertiser wished to hit. Its absence, per Kagan's testimony, is likely to frustrate many, especially smaller-name brands and agencies that don't necessarily have the time or the resources to comb through a comprehensive targeting list.
News of a wonky feature comes as YouTube is in hot water again for failing to account for and excise shady content shared via its service. In recent weeks, it's received heavy criticism for videos targeted at young children that feature disturbing, often violent content — the cartoon character Peppa Pig being tortured is a frequently-cited example — but use keywords and imagery to game the platform's algorithm.