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Report: YouTube may introduce stricter vetting process for top-tier ad channels

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This may impact a number of creators

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YouTube’s parent company, Google, is looking into increasing the vetting process for which YouTube channels and videos receive top-tier ads through the company’s Google Preferred packaging, Bloomberg reports.

Google Preferred refers to a group of YouTube channels that Google sells to advertisers at higher prices. These channels are typically among the biggest and most watched on YouTube; think top influencers and creators like Logan Paul, Lele Pons, Casey Neistat and Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee. Bloomberg is reporting that Google wants to use a combination of human moderation and an “artificial intelligence software to flag videos deemed inappropriate for ads.” Productive conversations were held at CES with advertisers, but YouTube doesn’t have anything to announce at this time regarding a heavier vetting process.

The report comes just after YouTube confirmed it was removing Logan Paul from the Google Preferred group, which could reportedly slash his ad revenue by 50 percent. Paul received a firestorm of criticism after uploading a video on Dec. 31, 2017, that showed the body of a man who appeared to have recently committed suicide. In addition to removing Paul from Google Preferred, YouTube said it had put all of his YouTube Red projects on hold until further notice.

YouTube and Google have been hit with a string of bad publicity over the past year that has advertisers concerned. In February 2017, the Wall Street Journal discovered that YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie, uploaded a video featuring anti-Semitic imagery and language. That was followed by reports that ads from major advertisers were running alongside hateful and dangerous videos in Google Preferred’s program. This led to the first “adpocalypse,” a term creators on the platform use to refer to the mass wave of demonetization across the channel as YouTube and Google went into lockdown mode.

By the end of 2017, Google and YouTube were dealing with a sea of bad actors who were publishing disturbing children’s content or videos targeted toward kids. On Dec. 4, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published a blog post announcing the hiring of more than 10,000 moderators to improve the flagging process and tackle the issues plaguing the platform. Wojcicki said the company was also going to apply new monetization methods to ensure that creators and advertisers were protected going forward:

We believe this requires a new approach to advertising on YouTube, carefully considering which channels and videos are eligible for advertising. We are planning to apply stricter criteria, conduct more manual curation, while also significantly ramping up our team of ad reviewers to ensure ads are only running where they should. This will also help vetted creators see more stability around their revenue. It’s important we get this right for both advertisers and creators, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be speaking with both to hone this approach.

Polygon has reached out to YouTube for comment and will update when we hear back.

Update: A YouTube representative told Polygon:

We built Google Preferred to help our customers easily reach YouTube’s most passionate audiences and we’ve seen strong traction in the last year with a record number of brands. As we said recently, we are discussing and seeking feedback from our brand partners on ways to offer them even more assurances for what they buy in the Upfronts.