IPA calls on YouTube and Google to mend their ad ways

The UK’s IPA agency trade body has formally called on Google-owned YouTube and Facebook to work with the IPA and ISBA (the advertiser equivalent) to bring the safety, measurement and viewabillity of their online video up to acceptable industry standards.

In a robust letter to the digital duopoly IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair has called for three changes to current practice.

Brand Safety

YouTube and Facebook to become signatories to the DTSG Good Practice Principles, which will entail the independent verification of their brand safety policies and processes within six months.

Video Audience Measurement

YouTube and Facebook to meet standards of independent, industry-owned audience measurement, to enable cross-platform video audience measurement in the UK.

Video Viewability

YouTube and Facebook to use the UK as a test bed for delivering online and mobile video ad supply that is optimised for 100 per cent viewability and can be independently verified.

Bainsfair says: “The internet has evolved into a complex ecosystem, fuelled by mobile. Online budgets have exploded from around 16 per cent of total spend (2007) to over 40 per cent today, and online video has now established itself as an effective brand building format alongside television advertising.

“As the two biggest online video suppliers, YouTube and Facebook have a responsibility to ensure the best possible standards for advertising on their platforms.

“Whilst we acknowledge that small steps towards addressing recent concerns have been taken, our advertisers and agencies are increasingly telling us that this progress is neither fast, nor significant, enough.

“We believe it is incumbent upon the key players in this sector, therefore, to show real commitment to finding solutions to these problems.”

Will mighty YouTube and Facebook take any notice, let alone change their ways?

It’s hard to see why two such global behemoths should respond positively to demands from one country but they must be fed up being always cast as the bad guys.

So you never know. Let’s see how (if) they respond.


Hard to accuse Facebook’s media operation of being slow on the draw.

In response to the above they say:

“We are already engaged in a constructive dialogue with the IPA and its members on these important topics. We take our commitment to advertisers seriously, and through continued investment and innovation we’re making progress, together with our partners in the industry. In the last few months we’ve announced an extra 3,000 content reviewers to nearly double our existing team, as well as new buying options and controls for advertisers that give choice and transparency over how and where ads appear on the platform. We have also updated our metrics to give more clarity and confidence about the insights we provide, including our work with 24 third-party measurement partners who can verify the value we drive for advertisers.”

To be honest I haven’t a clue whether Facebook, YouTube et al are doing all they can to eliminate these issues.

But, as we’ve remarked before, some blame must go to the media agencies who seem happy to pump ads out to anywhere via programmatic. If people did it, as Facebook appear to be suggesting in relation to their own practices, wouldn’t that help to get rid of the problem?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.