01.18.19 By: Fiona Carter Chief Brand Officer, AT&T Communications
In March 2017, AT&T made the decision to remove ads from the YouTube platform when we discovered our ads were appearing next to extremist content. As industry decisions go, it was a defining moment because when we walked, other major brands did the same. Today, I’m happy to share that AT&T’s ads will be returning to YouTube.
We worked tirelessly with Google to refine our brand’s safety expectations and develop a data-driven, brand-safe solution. Twenty-two months, three rigorous content tests, and many hours of hard work later, we got there. Our most recent test of YouTube’s Brand Suitability System -- which uses a custom list of content categories to be avoided, including violence, extremist and hate speech and adult content – revealed that we had reached a near-zero result in the number of ads appearing alongside offensive or unapproved content. This was enough to convince us that our brand could safely return to YouTube.
I’m thrilled that AT&T is back. But I’m also glad that we packed up our ads and walked away in the first place. As powerful as digital platforms are in today’s advertising ecosystem, they can’t be permitted to disempower the brands that use them to reach their customers. We’re one of the biggest advertisers in the U.S. When a business like ours serves 170 million direct-to-consumer relationships, it matters where the AT&T globe shows up – and whose content we end up supporting.
As it turns out, it mattered to other companies as well. That’s a good thing, because it prompted a serious search for a solution, one that works for AT&T – and one that I believe can be applied to others. We’re not allowing our brand to fuel hate-filled messages.
So yes, AT&T is back on YouTube. We’re not allowing our brand to fuel hate-filled messages, and we’ll remain vigilant to ensure our reputation remains firmly in our hands. But I couldn’t be happier that in walking away, we were able to find our way back to this important platform.
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