Google made headlines at the start of the Cannes Lions Advertising festival this week by announcing new measures to crack down on offensive and extremist content on the platform. And brand safety is an issue that's top of mind for chief marketing officers meeting with various platforms over the course of the week-long gathering, as they decide where to move their ad dollars.
The world's second largest advertiser, Unilever, stuck by Google through some of its fellow advertisers' boycotts. Now CMO Keith Weed tells us he's pleased with Google's changes: "I'm assured by the industry and what Google did," Weed says, noting that brand safety issues are not unique to Google. "You can buy a billboard next to a building where you don't want to see it...I think each step is getting better and better...It's all about suitability."
At Cannes, Google's YouTube is now shining a spotlight on its investment in content that's designed to be suitable for advertisers: professionally generated videos featuring big stars from the platform as well as elsewhere in traditional media.
"We started original programming on YouTube with our subscription service YouTube Red," says Susanne Daniels, YouTube's original content chief, formerly a top MTV exec. "We are now offering premium programming in front of the paywall and we've announced a new slate of original programming that's advertiser [supported] video-on-demand."
Daniels says YouTube's produced Katy Perry livestream was a big hit, with 49 million watching over four days -- the most successful live stream in a day by a YouTube music star.
"I think my mission is exactly that: it's all about premium content, both in front of and behind the paywall. There are a billion unique users on YouTube a day, it is a global platform, and it's a really exciting opportunity to use that group of people to funnel hopefully programming that they're excited about," says Daniels.
That programming, she says, will figure both stars from YouTube and big names such as Kevin Hart and Ellen Degeneres, who are bringing their star-power to the YouTube platform. And Daniels says advertisers are responding positively-- with Johnson & Johnson buying a show Ryan Seacrest is executive producing, called 'Best Cover Ever.'
With this premium content Daniels says there's no question they're going after TV ad dollars: "There's one bucket of money and the digital platforms, yes, are competing for TV ad dollars that were previously exclusively TV ad dollars."