In the recent IPA Bellwether report, IPA stated that the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit was having a negative impact on ad spend and client decision making. The effects are more far-reaching than that for those companies who have a footprint across Europe and have raised challenges around brand suitability for marketers.  Having recently announced the growth of our company across Nordics, Poland and the UK to add to our presence in Sweden, Spain, France, Italy and Germany, we are experiencing first hand the challenges of ensuring brand suitability. As an ad tech partner of YouTube,  we work with worldwide audiences and languages and given that there are 50 million YouTube creators pushing out content on the platform across over 150 countries, in 80 languages, and on fully localised platforms in 91 countries, this brings a wide variety of localised culture and nuance: in short, things are understood and received differently by consumers in different countries. Most critically for marketers is what is considered brand suitable content varies from country-to-country based on cultural differences (politics/current events, pop-cultural phenomena, etc). 


In a climate in which both marketers and users are demanding trust, transparency and brand suitability, we all, as an industry have to ensure that we remain committed to delivering these crucial elements if we are to sustain growth across the entire European digital ad market and brand suitability has huge challenges without localisation. 

For example, if we look at localised language and specifically profanity, there is a huge amount of idiomatic variation – it’s not always a simple 1-to-1 translation of “shit” to “merde” in French for example, and “merde” doesn’t actually carry the same profanity weight in France as it does in the US. Seemingly innocuous words in English might be used in foreign languages to form profane statements.

This has made it essential that YouTube advertising technologies integrate multi-language detection to avoid ads from running against content whose metadata (including video titles, descriptions, and even audio-transcripts) includes language outside of brand’s target markets. It also means that brands should build exclusion lists in the languages of the markets they’re running in to capture foreign language brand suitability issues and inclusion lists which capture and extend scale/performance against local market content. 

Personnel presence

Personnel need to be deeply embedded in and attuned to local cultures and rapidly update exclusion and inclusion lists and understand the brand’s needs before the campaign media planning even begins. Machine learning technology allows that human-curated starting point to guide brand suitability automation and scale campaigns accordingly.

In response to the need to deliver a strong global offering to your customer, it’s vital to build out physical/personnel presence as well as language capabilities within the technology. You need to have on-the-ground human content alignment curators in UK, Nordics, APAC, and create exclusion lists in all 33 languages, as well as enabling non-English language detection in 70+ languages. The significant benefit of a localised business is to provide clients with partners who understand the tone and audience relative to their local country, maximizing their advertising efforts.
It is essential to understand local advertising trends including the way that brands approach advertising, which also varies by country. Localised businesses will understand how brands approach advertising in their country and work towards a suitable strategy that might not be well-known elsewhere.

The biggest hurdle is often language. It is critical to remove the language barrier to help with both client communication and to provide suitability on localised versions of YouTube. Non-localised companies may be able to detect unsuitable keywords in foreign languages, but they won’t be able to understand contextual phrasing that gives a video an entirely different meaning.

If digital advertising is to remain the sector reporting the strongest growth, marketers must remain committed to buying fraud-free, performance-led, brand-suitable quality inventory globally. To support this, it is essential that companies throughout the ecosystem need to deliver localised support across Europe and build teams with local language, knowledge and relationships. When it comes to brand suitability, the only approach is to work with a truly localised offering which is vital to the success of a brands’ performance-maximised campaigns.