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Mobile Monday: Has YouTube Given Up on Brand Safety?

Posted Feb 10, 2019

Think YouTube is doing everything it can to address brand safety concerns after their rough spell a couple of years ago? Think again. Twitter has also changed how it calculates its user counts in order to show what it views as “monetizable” users. Social and web video platforms are looking a bit less reliable than last week. Read on and get up to speed.

Twitter’s Quest for Continued Relevance
It’s no secret that Twitter has been struggling to maintain stable profitability and its continued MAU declines have had everyone from advertisers to shareholders second-guessing Twitter’s viability as a platform, to say nothing of the volatility of Twitter’s user-generated content and brand safety.

In its Q4 shareholder letter, the Twitter announced that it won’t be releasing monthly active user (MAU) count after Q1. Instead, the company will share only what calls its monetizable daily active users (mDAUs), which it has [rather arbitrarily] defined as “Twitter users who logged in or were otherwise authenticated and accessed Twitter on any given day through or Twitter applications that are able to show ads.”

It should be noted that just because a user can potentially see an ad doesn’t mean they interact with it. Users logging in from web or mobile web may well have ad blockers running.

Twitter report brand safety

Prior to this report, Twitter didn’t disclose DAU counts of any sort, only sharing mDAU growth rate. What does this mean for advertisers? That’s complicated. Less transparent reporting of users gives advertisers less information with which to make decisions. While MAU isn’t the best indicator of total addressable audience, it’s still an important factor in estimating the total audience size. Of course, since Twitter’s ads are interruptive and invasive rather than opt-in, will this single metric change advertiser sentiment toward the platform?

Has YouTube Given up on Brand Safety?
YouTube has reportedly stopped reimbursing its advertising partners for fees they pay out to third-party brand safety verification platforms that check brands’ ads run in brand-safe environments.

YouTube had been crediting (or refunding) its advertisers for the cost of such services in response to the major brand safety questions the platform was facing in 2017. It seems the company feels it’s made enough strides toward securing brand safety on its own. That may not be the whole story though.

YouTube Brand safetyLast October, the Video Advertising Bureau directly called out YouTube for the difficulty in monitoring the sheer volume of content on the platform. “Accurate measurement of the 50+ million channels on YouTube is daunting, if not impossible,” said the report. GroupM also thinks YouTube still has a lot of work to do when it comes to brand safety.

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