YouTube’s Advertising Problems

YouTube controversy

Google-owned YouTube has had a pretty busy couple of weeks. And it’s all about advertising and just how tricky it can be.

The first issue that they faced was over a newspaper investigation which found that UK government paid advertising was being run alongside extremist content. Very embarrassing at best and at worst a very expensive mistake: some big hitters (Verizon, AT&T) have suspended their YouTube advertising spend at least for the time being. And these budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars – enough to impact the Google share price by $25bn in less than a week.

The second issue that YouTube faced was some controversy around its relatively new ‘restricted mode’. Restricted mode is a filter which can be turned on within YouTube to filter out potentially mature content that you may not wish someone in your family to see. Sounds like a reasonable idea – but how does it work? How can YouTube tell what content is offensive and what isn’t? It is very difficult, even for the big brains over at Google. When the panic was reaching its peak over the first issue mentioned in this blog, restricted mode seemed like a great idea. But it soon started adding a lot of LGBTQ into restricted content, for which it rightly attracted a lot of criticism.

How can YouTube / Google start to get control of the situation and move forward in light of this very difficult period? I think there are four areas to consider:

  • More control over the type of content on YouTube: This is a really difficult one, but one that YouTube needs to step up to. It needs to either define what content is inappropriate (where is the line between freedom of speech and hate speech?) or flag content very clearly that should be restricted – for users as well as advertisers
  • Balance between meeting the needs of content creators and advertisers: YouTube is stuck in the middle but needs to listen to the needs of both – without either, the website will face even more troubles ahead
  • The Google Display Network needs to be tightened up: Advertisers need to be able to clearly define who they are looking to engage with and YouTube needs to be able to deliver against that brief. There will always be a bit of a leap of faith for an advertiser, but running the risk of having your advert appear before an extremist video is a leap to far
  • YouTube needs to clarify what Restricted Mode is all about. It came to prominence as a knee-jerk reaction to the advertising controversy and what they saved in time, they paid for in good-will from viewers and content creators. Clearly explaining what is being hidden and why would go a long way to resolving this.

What do you think that YouTube and Google should do to resolve these pressing issues?

Image via the fantastic

Targeted Advertising

Behavioural Targeting

Behavioural Targeting

I read an article earlier this week that claimed that 99% do digital advertisements are incorrectly targeted. This seems like a massive number to me, but maybe I am bias being a digital marketer who spends a lot of time thinking ant how to advertise to our target audiences – perhaps other people don’t do that, and if they don’t, then here are 5 segmentation tips which should help you get more bang for your digital advertising buck.

This is not always applicable as a lot of products and services are applicable to both sexes. However,  even if this is the case, why would you not shape your message differently for each of these groups? We know that different genders respond better to different messages, so for the same of a little more investment in your creative, your end result could be far more impressive (as lone as you avoid cringeworthy stereotypes).

There are a number of organisations which only want to talk to particular parts of the country or world. Not every affiliate website that you would like to advertise on will be able to split their audience by geography, but the Google Display Network is a good place to start – it’s targeting has improved dramatically over the last couple of years. You may need to pay a higher CPM for geographic targeting, but it will ensure your audience is relevant.

This is a big one, and hitting the people with the right lifestyle for your product or service is a marketers dream. And it has never been easier to get it right (or get pretty close!). In the world of social media advertising, particularly on Facebook, this can be really fine-tuned (e.g. To target people who are in a relationship or not!) so you should press your product / brand marketers to give direction on their personas.

Day of week:
Why don’t you pop into Google Analytics and take a look at the day of the week where most visits to your website occur. Compare this to when you think your customer is looking for their product. You should start to develop some idea of when in the day / week / month / year you should be speaking to your audience. Don’t fall into the trap of a fashion house in the US who only posted Monday to Friday 9 – 5 and didn’t realise that their customers were most receptive at the weekend.

The natural answer to what device to target is both – we want to capture as many people as possible. However, the type of device can open up a lot of possibilities. If someone is within 100m of your shop and they have just searched for your product, surely you want them to see your advert? Mobile advertising is a massive opportunity that I haven’t seen many people completely crack, so watch this space for some best practice starting to develop soon.

So, when your boss starts talking about wanting their advertising budget to hit as many people as possible, tell them that 99% of digital adverts are incorrectly targeted and hitting everyone is a waste of budget – getting your targeting right will push your ads into the top 1% in the digital world….which should make for a happy boss!

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Following on from my post last week about Twitter advertising, I thought that I should also cover advertising on the other major social network, Facebook.

As the world’s largest social network, just over 1.2 billion members at the last count, and with each user having an average of 338 friends, the news feed is a tough place to get your message to stand out – particularly if you only have a small number of likes on your page.

Facebook is a commercial organisation, and it is entitled to start to monetise the network.  That’s why the only way to guarantee that people see your post is to advertise.  If you have people who have liked your page, they will see every post that you make only if they regularly interact with your content (i.e. like, comment or share).  Otherwise, Facebook will ‘filter’ the amount of content that is seen by your fans.

So, what are your options when advertising?  Helpfully, Facebook starts (as all good marketers do) with what results you would like:

Page Post Engagement: if you have a particular post which you think is great and sums up your page, then choose this option – it will promote an individual post, so make the media interesting (e.g. video, infographic, etc.)

Page Likes: a great idea if your audience is relatively small – get your page seen by people who don’t like your page yet – a quick way to get targeted followers (you can target later in the process)

Clicks to Website: these ads appear in the right hand column and will take users directly to the URL of your choice; a handy display advertising tool

Website Conversions: to use this, you will need to add some tracking code to your website to measure the results, but this tool will help you drive people to a particular action

App Installations: this tool will help you to drive the number of people using your Facebook app up…

App Engagement: …and this tool will encourage people to use your app more!
Event Responses: if you have an event already created in Facebook, you can create an advert to support this event – very useful in specific industries

Offer Claims: this has been growing in popularity over the last few months.  If you have an offer that you would like to promote, this will appear in news feeds and show users who in their network has already claimed the offer.  As ever, be careful of over-redemption!

I think that at the moment, many people baulk at the idea of spending money on social media: after all, it’s meant to be free isn’t it?  But I think the sheer size of the networks, the amount of content being shared (i.e. noise) and an improvement in the tools provided by the networks themselves will make social media advertising the norm by the end of 2014.

What do you think?

Are Display Ads Dead?



I saw a HubSpot article earlier this week which showed some pretty alarming statistics about on-line display ads:

  • 8% of internet users account for 85% of display ad clicks (and not all of them are human)
  • You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad
  • You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad

So, on this evidence, display ads are a thing of the past, right?  Well, no.  Firstly, the context of these stats is not clear, so we should only take them at face value.  But is the point that they are making fair?

Imagine this scenario – you run a company who sells widgets to other businesses and has been doing so for 10 years.  When you are advertising to your current customer base, you need to drive direct responses.  So, your strategy is to drive enquiries, and your objective is to drive the target audience to your website to find out more. In this case, display ads are not the tool for you – an average click through rate is 0.1%, so you will need 1000 impressions of your ad before you receive just one click. 

However, if you have decided to start selling your widgets to a brand new audience, then your strategy will be to raise awareness of your product to this new audience – you want to get your name out to this new audience, so on-line display ads could be the answer.  Your objective is brand awareness with this new audience, not necessarily clicks.

So, as with every marketing campaign, the objective should help to tell you what tool you should use to get the maximum return – if its clicks and visits to the site, maybe look at PPC; if its awareness, then on-line display ads could be right. 

If you have an on-line display ad campaign with well-targeted keywords, a website which your audience frequently visits, a memorable ad creative, and you want to get this message in front of thousands of your target audience at relatively low cost, then on-line display ads are not dead – in fact, they might just be the tool you are looking for. 

(image from