Latest on YouTube: From Cookies to ID-based Targeting, Brand Safety Concerns and What It Means for Advertisers and AdParlor

Out with the old, in with the new
Google, recently announced it’s moving away from cookies to user ID based targeting on YouTube. This is another nod to the explosion of cross-screen and growth of mobile-first and mobile-only users, especially in APAC. In some cases, when managing YouTube campaigns, we’ve seen a significant volume of users fall under the “Unknown” demographics category, largely because identifying users based on cookies lacks accuracy across screens which results into inefficient measurement and scalability issues.

Relevance is key
Google is also enhancing audience-based targeting capabilities on YouTube by bringing in historical search data and maps or location information associated with Google accounts. Previously advertisers could only target users based on demographics and their browsing behaviour which created problems in cross-screen environments. For example, if you’re an auto retailer, you can now reach potential customers searching for SUVs on Google and engage them with your brand message while they’re watching a YouTube video.

Similarly, by bringing in user intent and location data to inform YouTube buys, advertisers should see increased impact by their video ads against their overall goals and therefore, make more informed decisions. Since these newly added signals are strong predictors of intent, advertisers savvy enough to be using multi-channel attribution models should also see a lift in YouTube performance.

On-board your high value users through Customer Match
In addition to Google’s proprietary audience segments, advertisers can upload their own data segments and target these audiences on YouTube. For example, advertisers with CRM data could upload their customers’ emails to get anonymously hashed and matched with Google’s users via Customer Match. Currently, Customer Match is limited to mapping users to their Google emails and not mobile ad IDs.

The Good outweighs The Bad
With the elimination of cookies and pixels on YouTube, advertisers and agencies raised concerns around independent measurement outside of Google’s walls. Such tools are reliant on pixels in their measurement (e.g. viewability, audience verification, brand lift). However, Google addressed this with the promise of a cloud-based measurement solution which is currently being developed. Diya Jolly, Director, YouTube Product Management confirmed in a blog post:

“As we build this new measurement solution, we will continue to work closely with leading MRC accredited vendors including comScore, DoubleVerify, IAS, MOAT, and Nielsen. Together, these vendors account for the vast majority of third-party measurement on YouTube. These collaborations will enable agencies and advertisers to continue to independently measure and verify the performance of their campaigns.”

Officially by Jan 2018, only re-certified pixels will be supported.

What does it mean for AdParlor, and YouTube Buys through AdParlor
YouTube Buys through AdParlor will be positively impacted because of these newly announced changes. We will be able to continue doing the same content filtering as we did before the announcement, only with more accurate user data.

The new changes affect how advertisers target users on YouTube, from an audience perspective (Who is the audience, what are their Interests, what is the likelihood of a purchase). AdParlor’s proprietary Content Curation tool helps advertisers target from a content perspective by ensuring ads are running on highly relevant and brand safe YouTube content (What the YouTube video is about – Its Title, Description, Content, Channel Standing, Meta Tags among others). If at all, these new updates plus AdParlor’s content filtering makes overall targeting on YouTube more robust to help advertisers drive the maximum ROI.

From a more technical perspective, AdParlor is plugged into the YouTube Data API which sends back data regarding the content of each YouTube video via meta tags (e.g. Title, Topic, Keywords, Channel, YouTube Categories among others). AdParlor then applies a list of globally maintained and updated blacklisted keywords and thereafter, a team of specialists further curates sub-segments to make the videos we’re targeting more relevant and brand safe for each advertiser.

More recently, governments such as those in Vietnam and in the UK have called for blanket bans or temporary restrictions on YouTube advertising amid brand safety concerns on the platform against allegations that several blue chip ads have been seen on top of terrorist sympathizer videos, far right groups and pornographic content.

Google has begun review of its ad policies and whether they impose stricter rules and guidelines on user-generated YouTube content remains to be seen over the coming weeks. For now, this serves as a wake-up call for advertisers to be more vigilant in their vetting processes and ensure they partner with platforms they can trust not only to bring their messages across to their target audience but under a brand safe environment at all cost.

Want to learn more about how AdParlor can help you with your YouTube campaigns? Reach out to me at

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