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Big Tech helps advertisers avoid its shady side

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The world’s biggest tech companies have found a new way for marketers to buy video ads that won’t show up next to shady user-generated content.

Why it matters: For a while, advertisers shifted digital budgets away from more expensive ads on premium publisher websites and TV, to cheaper ads at scale on tech platforms, because it was efficient, but that strategy is changing in response to problems posed by running ads against unvetted user-generated content.

What it looks like: Companies like YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are all building virtual fences around premium video content, and allowing advertisers to target ads solely against vetted material, most created by media publishers.

  • Tech platforms are charging advertisers more to run ads within pools of vetted videos. Advertisers, in turn, can be assured that their ads don't run against things like terrorist content or hate speech.
  • Twitter's Head of Global Client Solutions Sarah Personette told Axios earlier this month at an Axios Media Trends event that the company has rolled out solutions for advertisers to reach audiences at scale, while remaining around vetted premium content. "If advertisers want to reach a Latin audience and get in front of only Univision content, they can do it," she said.
  • Snapchat was pitching a new ad-buying product called Snap Select at Cannes last week, Digiday's Kerry Flynn reports. "The product lets advertisers buy ads exclusively in Snap’s premium content, as in its shows and vetted publishing partners, rather than between content from Snap users."
  • Facebook this year debuted "Showcase," an ad-buying program that allows advertisers to buy ads only around premium video content from publishers in its "Watch" video tab.
  • YouTube is becoming more attractive to ad agencies, which have begun creating their own lists of pre-approved, premium content for advertisers to place ads around, Digiday's Lucinda Southern reports. YouTube has also added more videos to its "Google Preferred" program, which allows advertisers to buy video ad packages around premium content.

Be smart: The big complaint about buying ads this way is that they mimic the buying strategy of television. Advertisers can choose a show, channel or content type to run their ads around, but they can't always target ads by user.

The bottom line: Platforms can fund all the original content that they want, but it will be very hard to scale these types of opportunities without licensing content from publishers.

  • This has begun to improve the market dynamic between tech companies and media companies from where it was a few years ago, when platforms made money off users sharing publisher content that they didn't have to license.

Go deeper: Advertisers want to mine your brain