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YouTube Stresses Safety, Effectiveness at Brandcast

YouTube put on a slick show Thursday evening during its annual Brandcast designed to convince advertisers to put more money into its online video by stressing steps it is taking to improve brand safety and document effectiveness.

The event’s venue was significant. The presentation took place at Radio City Music Hall, where NBCUniversal will kick off the broadcast industry’s week of upfront presentations on May 14. The after-party was in Rockefeller Center right in front of NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki provided statistics showing YouTube’s reach, particularly among young cord cutters and other light TV viewers.

She also acknowledged YouTube’s problem hosting hateful and otherwise inappropriate content and sometimes letting advertisers' messages run during those videos.

Wojcicki reviewed YouTube’s recent actions to eliminate what she called “violative” content, including having humans review all videos including in Google Preferred, the package of videos from YouTube’s most watched channels that is positioned as an alternative to traditional TV for advertisers.

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“It’s incredibly important to me and to everyone at YouTube that we grow responsibly,” she said. “We committed to having over 10,000 people across Google by end of year to address content violative content. And we’re using the latest machine learning technology to apply our policies at scale.”

Wojcicki said that YouTube was adding tools to better target YouTube Preferred and would be wiring with Nielsen Catalina Solutions to show how effective YouTube campaigns are at moving products off shelves.

One believer in advertising on YouTube is Deanie Elser, president of the Kellogg’s Snack Division. She said that in 2015, the company spent no money on YouTube. After a successful campaign for Rice Krispies Treats that lifted sales nearly 4%, YouTube became the digital company her company spends the most money with.

Kellogg has increased its spending on YouTube every year, with a big 300% bump last year, and now spends 60% to 70% of its overall marketing budget on digital.

“The tools we get from Google help us get smarter, engage with our consumers better, and in many ways, improve our strategies for our campaigns overall,” Elser said.

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl said the company was adding its VEVO music video library to Google Preferred. “This gives you the unprecedented opportunity to advertise against virtually all music in the world,” he said.

Speaking of music, the big finish to YouTube’s presentation were performances by pop stars Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande.

YouTube continued to roll out new shows.

Will Smith will bungee jump out of a helicopter live on YouTube on Sept. 25. The Special, Will Smith: The Jump Off is a result of a YouTube fan challenge and will raise money for charity.

LeBron James is producing Best Shot, a docu-series following the Newark Central High School Blue Devils basketball team, which gets mentored by former NBA player Jay Williams. Best Shot will debut on the NBA YouTube channel this summer.

Jack Whitehall: Training Days shows the comedian as he trains with the world’s elite soccer players. The show is sponsored by Wendy’s in the U.S. and is executive produced by James Corden. It will launch on Whitehall’s YouTube Channel on May 9, ahead of the start of the World Cup.

Priyanka Chopra: If I Could Tell You Just One Thing asks successful people for advice that they believe could change the world.

YouTube also said it renewed three of last year’s original series, the Untitled Demi Lovato Project, The Super Slow Show and Kevin Hart: What the Fit.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.