JP Morgan Chase takes brand safety into its own hands on YouTube with new algorithm

Last March when some brands’ ads ended up next to troubling videos on YouTube JPMorgan Chase were one of several companies who responded by pulling its ads from the platform. In June Chase’s CMO Kristin Lemkau, said at Cannes: “We’ll remain off YouTube until we feel like there’s a solution that will allow us to be brand safe to our standard, which is hard for those guys because every brand is going to draw the line differently,”.

YouTube is such a big deal in terms of reaching their clients, and they felt that the company weren’t taking the threats to brand safety seriously enough so they have decid4d to do something about it themselves. In an interview published this week, Jake Davidow, executive director of media and channel strategy at JPMorgan Chase, told Business Insider: “When news broke about ads finding their way next to horrific pieces of content, we paused our efforts and pulled our ads from YouTube. We wanted to figure out a scalable solution and make sure we got it right.”

The algorithm was created and developed in-house by JPMorgan’s programmatic and media-buying teams. It works by plugging into YouTube’s API where it then uses 17 filters to  find safe channels to host its ads. The system ustilises a number of filters which include the channel’s total video count, subscriber counts, topics, native language and comments on videos.

The algorithm allows the bank to whittle its safe list to 3,000 channels from the original 5,000,000. The tool has been being tested since October and has resulted in an impressive 99.9% success rate.

The bank obviously feel that YouTube is not taking their issues with brand safety seriously enough as Aaron Smolick, executive director of paid-media analytics and optimization at JPMorgan Chase, said to Business Insider: “The model that Google has built to monetize YouTube may work for it, but it doesn’t work for us. The attention of protecting a brand has to fall on the actual people within the brand itself.”

“The biggest lesson for us was that we realized that it wasn’t a black-and-white conversation with good guys or bad guys, but a gradient,” Smolick continues. “It isn’t necessarily about brand safety, but rather brand appropriateness. That’s the next evolution of the debate, with each brand deciding what’s appropriate for them and what’s not.”



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