Youtube’s Sensitive Issues

youtube sensitive issues

Top of my gripe list this week is Youtube’s sensitive issues policy. Specifically because it’s stopping me from placing ads and secondly because it’s just so vague. You may be experiencing the same frustration. If so, like me you might be finding it impossible to get any clarification on the subject. I’ll keep you posted in a future post – I have appealed my disapproved video ad – but meantime here’s my experience to date.   

As we all know the world is in the middle of a pandemic. It affects all of us and will have long running and wide ranging long term consequences. One of those is a very deep recession. Another, closely related is that many people will be working from home for a long time. Many others will lose jobs and businesses and will be looking for ways to replace their income. 

One of the best ways in my experience is to start an online business. This ticks many boxes right now. First and foremost it can be run from anywhere and has zero touch points. Running the business from home answers all of the current lockdown restrictions. Since the start of the crisis online shopping and communication has seen a huge increase. The Internet therefore is a very very good place to start a business. There are numerous well established internet business models and its possible to leverage platforms like Amazon.

What Are The Sensitive Issues?

So to my ad and Youtube’s sensitive issues policy. I work with an organisation which provides mentorship, training and resources for people who want to start a digital business. You can even start as an affiliate partner of their’s – a business in a box if you will. My ad offers their free video series where full details are provided.

I used my own back story in the video. I was laid off after the 2008 recession, just as many are being laid off in this one. I’d been researching online business ideas for a while and this gave me the perfect opportunity to go for it. I had time and money to invest. Fortunately for me I came across the above organisation and they made the process much easier. I also opted to become an affiliate partner and was soon earning very high commissions. My life genuinely changed for the better.

My ad – a skippable in stream ad – basically told that story. At not point do I refer specifically to Covid 19, lockdown or Corona virus. I do use a couple of short clips – one of a guy in a mask and another of the word coronavirus crisis as seen in a TV news headline. The latter is in a section where I talk about the traditional economy limping from one recession to another. Th reality is that this happens every decade or so.  

youtube sensitive issues policy

Goodies And Baddies

Am I referring to anything that isn’t a day to day reality? Am I exploiting the situation? I don’t think so and no where in Youtube’s sensitive events policy does it state that Covid must never be mentioned or even acknowledged with an image – that would be ridiculous.  

I am aware that like Facebook, Google uses complicated algorithms in the first instance to review, approve or disapprove ads in line with their guidelines and policies. This unfortunately spreads quite a wide net which catches some goodies along with the baddies. There is an appeal process and to be fair Google have made this accessible from within an Adwords account. Ironically they presently state that due to Coronavirus this process will take longer than normal. 

There is a one click appeal button there. All this does is notify Google that you’d like them to reconsider. In my experience this is also handled by algorithm rather than a human. A deeper dig around reveals a more detailed appeal process where you can send a detailed query. I’ve done that. I’d love it if my ad was simply approved (no apology needed) but if not I would really welcome some specific info on where it violates Youtube’s sensitive issues policy.

Researching and creating video ads is no mean feat. To then have them disapproved with no real explanation why is soul destroying. I fully endorse the need for “policing” the internet and understand that guidelines and policies around advertising are important. They benefit everyone. On the other hand though platforms like Google are making billions form advertisers. I think it’s only fair that they offer more specific information on decisions that adversely affect incomes – just like pandemics and recession do…. 

Update!- Don’t Mention The War!

Since writing the post I did get a response from Google which I wanted to share with you.

They initially responded to my appeal with a re-iteration of their “sensitive events” policy. Again, as I explained earlier, this didn’t really help so I replied with a request for specific details on how they feel my video failed to comply.

Was it the clip of a guy wearing a mask and the news headline clip mentioning the coronavirus crisis?

(in hindsight I guess the latter was obvious) 

It’s a video created with Vidnami but with clips of me in it, my voiceover and one of my own pieces of music.  I wanted to test the format for ad purposes. 

The voiceover and text overlay of it do not mention Covid, lockdown or any related terms although as I say,  two short clips do visually.

They came back to me and confirmed that yes those were the problem (although any other references may also be problematic…….) 

Anyway I altered the video accordingly. I replaced mask guy with a clip of a closed sign being placed in a cafe window. The coronavirus crisis graphic was replaced with a clip of hundred dollar bills burning. Both, in current times, are pretty obvious references to the pandemic and resulting economic crisis but don’t reference it directly. and re-submitted the ad. It was approved.

A tedious process but I will say that Google/Youtube ad support were prompt and pretty decent about it all. Even If I disagree with the slightly “Don’t mention the war!” attitude to a global situation.  They are the boss!

So at least I now have an ad running.