If your dealership runs ads on the Google Display Network or with YouTube this guide will show you how to reduce the changes of your dealership brand from appearing next to extremists or hate-filled videos.
An initial investigation by The Times newspaper in the UK found ordinary display ads from UK-based companies appearing alongside user-uploaded YouTube videos that promote hate and extremism. The uproar is centered around display ads placed on YouTube as well as website and apps that are part of the Google Display Network that were shown to users based in the UK.
The investigation found display ads from the Home Office, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Transport For London and the BBC appearing on extremists websites displaying Google Ads and next to YouTube videos posted by David Duke, the American white nationalist, and other extremists and hate-filled videos. The investigation spawned several UK Government entities to investigate, or in some cases temporarily suspend, all forms of YouTube advertising until Google can guarantee that it won’t happen again.
As the UK fallout spreads to the US, several major brands such as AT&T, Verizon, Enterprise Holdings, and GM have decided to halt or reduce deals with Google over concerns that Google has not proven that it can protect their brands from showing alongside terrorist and hate-filled content.
Google Takes Action
In a blog post, Philipp Schindler, Google’s Chief Business Officer, wrote that Google started to ramp up changes around “ad policies, our enforcement of these policies and new controls for advertisers.” According to Schindler, Google has changed the default settings for ads so that “they show on content that meets a higher level of brand safety and excludes potentially objectionable content that advertisers may prefer not to advertise against.” In the coming weeks, Google will be introducing simplified management of exclusions and more fine-tuned controls for brands to exclude higher risk content.
Schindler also said, “We’ll be hiring significant numbers of people and developing new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for all advertising.”
Can This Happen to a Dealer?
Is it likely? No. Could it happen? Yes.
It’s my professional opinion that a majority (if not all) of the examples found in the investigation were a result of remarketing display ads within the Google Display Network. I believe a writer for UK-based newspaper was either searching for or stumbled across an extremists or hate-filled video and saw a display ad on a YouTube video from one of the UK entities mentioned as a result of previously visiting the UK mentioned site. As the investigation continued they were shown more ads from other websites they visited.
The only other way all these ads could have shown to the investigators in their research is if all the advertisers had the same targeting defined in Google AdWords that matched the traits of the investigators. The chances of this happening are very slim.
We can all agree that a majority of car buyers don’t go searching for bad videos on YouTube, however, if you’re running ads on the Google Display Network or YouTube a bad person could potentially see one of your ads.
Take Measures to Keep Your Dealership Safe
At Dealer Preroll we invest a small portion of our dealer’s budgets with YouTube. With the right targeting, YouTube can be a tremendous source of free video views from in-market car shoppers.
Although the examples in the British newspaper investigation were isolated to display ads on YouTube (we only run video ads), we want to make sure our video ads are not showing up in the wrong places. After careful review of our advertising with YouTube over the past 6 months, we have yet to find an instance of one of our dealer’s video ads showing alongside extremists or hate-filled videos. Here are the steps you can take today (or forward to your paid search vendor) to reduce the likelihood of your dealership showing up next to unwanted content:
Step 1 – Add Brand Safe Custom Exclusions to Google AdWords
To keep dealers as safe as possible we use a custom list of categories, keywords, YouTube videos, and YouTube channels provided to us by Google to exclude from advertising. This list will help provide coverage against extreme content until a larger fix is in place from Google. We encourage dealers continuing to advertise with the Google Display Network and YouTube to do the same and can share the list upon request – shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 2 – Modify Your Content Exclusions Settings in Google AdWords
Additionally, Google AdWords has an option under targeting to decrease the likelihood of your ads showing next to unwanted content. Once inside your Google AdWords account navigate to your campaign’s targeting options and search for the “Exclusions” red button. There, you should select the option to show your ads against “all content except mature, unlabeled, and sensitive subjects” in addition to using the custom list mentioned above. I also recommend choosing “Games” as a content type exclusion.
If you advertise with YouTube or Google through the Google Display Network it’s likely that your ad can show next to unwanted videos without additional measures in place. According to Google (https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2404253?hl=en), “In campaigns that target the entire Display Network (without restrictions), ads are eligible to appear on or around video content. Sites focused on video content, like YouTube, offer not only the video player but the space around the video, too.” Alternatively, you could add youtube.com as an exclusion in your Google AdWords campaigns.
Using a strategy and list similar to what I have described above you can decrease the chances of your dealership’s ads showing next to unwanted content and continue to enjoy the benefits of YouTube advertising.
Author: Truman Hedding
Truman Hedding is a 16-year internet marketing veteran and is the founder of Dealer Preroll in El Segundo, CA, where he oversees the growth and product execution for the company. As a recognized expert in the search marketing community, Truman has consulted for numerous dealerships across the nation. Truman has been quoted in such notable publications as the Los Angeles Times, Businessweek, and American Express OPEN Forum and is a regular industry speaker.