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YouTube spooked into brand safety changes

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Video sharing site YouTube has implemented stricter controls on video monetisation to ensure that advertisements are displayed in brand-safe environments following a string of issues in 2017.

The changes announced earlier this month introduce new eligibility requirements for creators to enter the YouTube Partner Program, as well as a new screening system for Google Preferred, in an attempt to create a safer brand environment and protect their creators.

Creators now become eligible for monetisation if they reach 1000 subscribers and accumulate 4000 hours of watch time within a 12-month period. Previously, creators were required to produce 10,000 lifetime views to be eligible.

Neal Mohan, chief product officer, and Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, acknowledged in a blog post that a higher standard needed to be met to “prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetising which can hurt revenue for everyone”.

YouTube also will be subjecting its most popular content to manual review after a trail of brand safety controversies, known as the “adpocalypse”, rocked the platform in 2017.

Google Preferred aggregates YouTube’s most engaging channels and offers advertisers access to the top 5 per cent of content and the ability to reach 18–34 year-olds.

It is hoped the changes will prevent ads from being placed next to extremist content and inappropriate videos targeted at children.

One of the site’s most popular creators, Logan Paul, was the latest to be pulled from the Google Preferred program after posting a video which prominently featured footage of a person who had committed suicide in Japan’s notorious Aokigahara forest.

The video trended and was featured on homepage, receiving more than 6 million view. The video eventually was removed by Paul, with YouTube waiting 11 days to make an official response.

“Moving forward, the channels included in Google Preferred will be manually reviewed and ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines,” said a YouTube representative.

The changes ultimately focus on YouTube’s partnership with advertisers, offering more transparency and control, and providing the chance to “reach over 1.5 billion people around the world who are truly engaged with content they love”.

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