With more than 1 billion average monthly visits, millions of video views per second, and a status as the second most popular search engine on the internet, YouTube has long seemed the dream platform for brands looking to build awareness and get eyes on their content.

However, when reports surfaced in the UK that advertising for leading brands was appearing alongside highly controversial content, big name after big name found themselves scrambling to pull their budgets until the issue has been resolved.

Following the more recent news that the boycott has now reached Australia, it is clear that the industry has finally woken up to the long-standing trade-off they’ve been signing themselves up to.

So with brand safety just one of the potential risks associated with the platform, what other ways are there for brands to seek out their audiences? And isn’t it about time to consider them?

All eyes on YouTube

YouTube – at its core a social network – offers brands a ready-made community with which to engage via advertising or free video hosting. While brilliant from a brand awareness perspective, as the current controversy proves only too well, such access necessitates a risky trade-off, which sees companies giving up on the ownership, control and worse still, safety of their brand.

No matter whether we’re talking about adverts or videos, when you put your content on a site like YouTube you sacrifice the ability to manage how viewers interact with your brand and what type of viewing experience they have. You sign yourself up to non-negotiable terms of service, and suddenly find your content placed in a mixed brand, mixed message environment that you have little to no control over.

The danger of YouTube in particular is that anything really does go – which is why brands now find themselves in a situation where controversial, competitive or otherwise inappropriate content is being served up directly alongside their ads, and vice versa. So what is the alternative?

Going it alone

For those brands that are no longer willing to accommodate the YouTube trade-off, the alternative is to go it alone. To take control of your messaging, content, branding and distribution by putting it out natively.

With video easier to create, manage and promote than ever before, owned video content not only enables you to provide audiences with a far more compelling, rich and interactive experience of your brand, but also ensures you’re better equipped to measure the results of your efforts thanks to premium video players’ more complete suites of metrics. Not only that, but you no longer have to be conscious that your content is effectively building someone else’s platform, driving their website traffic and growing their brand.

Sure, a native content approach might mean sacrificing advertising to a ready-made audience and having to start yours from scratch, but in light of recent events, and weighing up the pros and cons, isn’t it far better to own and control your brand experience?

Mark Blair

Mark Blair


Mark Blair, VP of EMEA, Brightcove