Will YouTube's fresh round of safety issues drive more brands to IGTV?

In June this year, Instagram unveiled IGTV at an event in San Francisco which expands its offering from just hosting bite-sized content, to watching long-form vertical video.  When the news of the service broke, many commented on the similarity IGTV had to the Google-owned platform YouTube -- which has, for a while now, been under close scrutiny from marketers. This was largely due to issues with brand safety.

While YouTube has no doubt been aggressively ramping up its efforts to counter this, just yesterday, one of the biggest brands in the confectionery world Mars, said it would be halting ad spend after an ad for its Starburst brand ended up next to a violent genre of rap music known as drill music.

So given YouTube now has a sticky problem and a big competitor in this space, we spoke to media players on whether this will be IGTV’s moment to shine.

Anwesh Bose, chief executive officer, Havas Media Indonesia said while he does see budgets shifting, the move to IGTV has been “slight”. Despite the issues plaguing the platform, he said, YouTube is a platform marketers still “cannot avoid completely” given the scale and reach that it offers.

“YouTube is the second largest search engine after google.com, and is driven by consumers seeking content actively, which is not the case with IGTV,” Bose said. He added that any platform which uses consumer generated content will always have pitfalls - be it YouTube or IGTV.

The responsibility lies with the platforms to minimise or remove such content.

“When the client’s KPIs are driven by views and programmatic trading to derive the ‘cheapest’ price, you end up getting such heart burns,” Bose added.

Currently however, IGTV has no advertising options, said Sanchit Sanga, chief digital officer APAC and MENA, Mindshare Singapore.

"It remains to be seen how consumers time spend gets distributed away from YouTube and what type of content is getting curated on IGTV to attract advertising dollars," he said. However, we must not forget YouTube audience is a very captive audience, he added.

"YouTube is part of a habit, used for utility, answers, to follow passions and for entertainment," he said. In essence, YouTube goes beyond entertainment purposes, and to break that habit will require something sensational as an offering.

He added that clients must set up right operational guard rails. This is one way to mitigate such occurrences.

"All brands need to use their own white and black list of channels and mandate use third-party verification partners to ensure content against their ads is qualified safe. The other option is to curate their own video inventory outside the YouTube environment using trusted marketplaces which are 100% transparent and brand safe," Sanga added.