Cisco pulls ads from YouTube to safeguard brand

Cisco has pulled its ads from the YouTube platform following brand safety concerns. This was confirmed in by its CMO Karen Walker in a blog post, which has since been taken down, a Reuters report read.

The initial blog post saw Walker explaining that she did not want the company’s ads to accidentally end up in the wrong place. This includes streamed videos containing sensitive content. That being said, Cisco will continue using YouTube as a platform to share its video content, Reuters reported.

Marketing has reached out to YouTube and Cisco for comment.

A quick check by Marketing found another blog post addressing the matter, which did not single out Google’s YouTube or Facebook. In the post, Walker said that Cisco has adopted the “most rigorous industry standards to help ensure [its] online advertising does not accidentally end up in the wrong place”. This includes such as on a streaming video with sensitive content or a site that does not align with the values of the brand.

Walker explained that technology has “transformed the marketing industry for good – and at an ever-increasing pace”. This allowed for more targeted and real-time online advertising and more customer engagement in real time for the brand with its customers. However, Walker said that the speed of change “works in both directions”.

“Sensitive issues in the media do sometimes spread faster than the media platforms’ algorithms can update, leading to what can be a brand-tarnishing experience described above. Similarly, some content platforms are not properly monitoring and categorising the content on their sites as it is posted,” Walker said, adding:

At Cisco, we would rather not wait for something bad to happen.

She said that the company is working closely with all of its media partners to ensure that Cisco’s online advertising meets its stringent standards. She added that the brand only advertises where those standards are met and where it can ensure inappropriate content is not shared.

The company is also ensuring its marketers and media agencies are armed with the necessary resources and training, to help prevent “anything unexpected from happening”. Walker added that it is also working to educate 62,000 of its partners who advertise on its behalf. This is to ensure they are aware of the company’s strict standards when they represent the Cisco brand in their advertising.

“As Cisco employees, we also have a responsibility to continue to safeguard the Cisco brand. Thank you so much for your efforts so far in representing this great company to the world,” the blog post added.

Cisco’s move follows a recent CNN investigative report which revealed that ads from over 300 companies and organisations ran on YouTube channels running sensitive content. This includes the promotion of white nationalists, Nazis, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda.

Brands affected include Cisco, adidas, Amazon, Facebook, Hershey, Hilton, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Netflix, Nordstrom, Under Armour and several US government agencies. Following the report, Under Armour, stopped its ad buy on the YouTube platform. One of its ads appeared on a white nationalist YouTube channel called "Wife With A Purpose."

In a statement to CNN, an Under Armour spokesperson said that it has takes these matters very seriously and are working to resolve the matter immediately.

"We have strong values-led guidelines in place and are working with YouTube to understand how this could have slipped through the guardrails," the statement added.

Meanwhile, YouTube has been ramping up its efforts to clean the platform of unsavoury content in past months. In April, it revealed the removal of over 8 million videos from YouTube during October to December 2017. It explained that the majority of the videos were mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content, representing only a fraction of a percent of YouTube’s total views during this time period. During this time period, 6.7 million were first flagged for review by machines rather than humans. Out of those 6.7 million videos, 76% were removed before they received any views.

Most recently, YouTube revealed several new features to its mobile app to help users with their "digital wellbeing". This includes a time watched profile (currently in the works) to give users a better understanding of their usage time and patterns to better manage their watching habits. The platform will also roll out a "Take a break reminder" feature to allow users to set reminders to stop watching YouTube in time breaks of 15, 30, 60, 90 or 180 minutes.

Other user features include a scheduled notification digest which combines all of the daily push notifications you receive from the YouTube app into a single combined notification. It will also introduce a feature which disables notification sounds and vibrations.