YouTube’s child video exposé: What do local marketers think about it?

YouTube has recently been the topic of discussion for child predatory content on its platform. Despite the video streaming platform implementing a roadmap to ensure child safety, concerns still persist.

This year alone, brands such as Nestle, Walt Disney and Epic Games halted their spend on YouTube after child video exposé. This led to the streaming giant disabling comments from potential child predatory videos with a YouTube spokesperson stating that, “Any content – including comments – that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube.”

“We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors. There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly,” she added.

We know in Singapore and Malaysia, YouTube continues to be a dominant platform for marketers when deciding on their marketing mix. As such, Marketing spoke to several client side marketers in Singapore about their views and concerns on the matter.

According to Joyce Tan, senior director, marketing & food innovation, Pizza Hut Singapore, the issue is certainly an area of growing concern for Pizza Hut Singapore. She added that this news about YouTube is “a timely reminder for all marketers to be more mindful of the potential dangers in digital marketing” and making sure that brand safety is front and center of any brand’s pursuit for digital excellence.

She added that the responsibility now rests with Google to ensure the content on its site is appropriate and, equally important, the advertising that accompanies such content meets the brand standards of advertisers.  “Unlike traditional media such as television and print, advertisers and their media agencies do not actually make the decisions on which specific content their advertising is featured on. Digital media owners such as Google and Facebook need to take concrete action in this front and become more transparent,” Tan added.

“Similar to any brand trusted by their core consumers, Pizza Hut has been trusted by families and we have a responsibility to protect their interest and well-being by ensuring them that we are not seen to be supporting undesirable actions of individuals or groups,” she said.

She is also of the view that over and above the safeguards that Google and other digital media owners need to put in place, there are technologies available to the advertiser and media agency that can help minimise advertising dollars being spent to directly or indirectly support undesirable activities of individuals or groups.

“We are constantly in conversation with our media agency partner to utilise such technology and tools, to put in place the necessary safeguards for our digital efforts,” she said. This includes building and maintaining a blacklist of websites, have a list negative keywords for contextual targeting, applying maximum protection via the Youtube platform settings.

“We recognise that the digital platform is constantly evolving, which makes it almost impossible to have a full-proof system in place, hence, the need for us to have regular reviews with our media agency partner to help us identify areas for improvement,”she added.

Eugene Lee, marketing director of McDonald’s Malaysia, added that brand safety is the most crucial aspect of any business and McDonald’s takes it very seriously given its target audience consists also of families. “We immediately engaged our agencies and local Google team once we received the news, and ensured that every measure that we had put in place was working to ensure our ads were kept safe,” Lee said.

“We understand the struggle with managing the millions of content that appears on YouTube, that’s why McDonald’s ourselves put in place strict guidelines to keep our brand safe,” he said. He added that the global guidelines are updated on a regular basis to include even more safety keywords and measures to ensure we protect the sanctity of our brand.

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