What Consumers Think About Conscious Advertising

Conscious advertising has received a lot of airtime in corporate boardrooms this past year. Media agencies such as Havas, GroupM and M&C Saatchi, along with brands like the Body Shop and Channel Factory itself, have all become members of the Conscious Advertising Network, with brands like Coca Cola and Unilever even pausing ad spend to ensure they were supporting the right type of media across social platforms.

The question is, do consumers care whether brands are more conscious of the choices they make in their media investments?

We put that question to 1000 U.S. consumers in a survey earlier this year, and the results are conclusive: consumers want brands to vote with their wallets and ensure they are monetizing the right type of content.1

What Are Consumers Saying?

“What we hear from consumers is that they care what kind of content their favourite brands are funding, what they are supporting and how their investments reflect their values,” said Stevan Randjelovic, director of brand safety and digital risk with GroupM. 

Our research found that 69% of consumers would prefer to buy from brands committed to socially conscious causes such as donating to charities, taking a stand on climate change or ensuring their corporate culture supports inclusivity and diversity.1 

They also want brands to help make the web a safe and more positive place, with 68% preferring to buy from brands who are committed to making online environments more positive, while almost two-thirds would prefer to buy from brands who are committed to making online environments more diverse and inclusive.

Furthermore, they want brands to make more deliberate decisions about the relevance of their ads to the content they run on. Contextual targeting is key, as 73% of consumers would be more likely to buy from brands whose ads are relevant to the content they’re consuming on YouTube.1

How Does Conscious Advertising Work?

It starts with the brands and the agencies. “Brands are thinking about media investment in terms of their corporate social responsibility” says Joshua Lowcock, EVP, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer with Universal McCann Worldwide, who joined Channel Factory on stage at the Brand Safety Summit in 2020.”They are trying to reflect ethical, value-based decisions about what’s positive and good for society in their media buying.”

At Channel Factory, we look at conscious advertising like this: a conscious advertiser is one that contributes to a safer, more diverse and inclusive digital ecosystem – by making intentional decisions about media investments and considering relevancy when choosing the audience they wish to target.

What About Conscious Advertising on Social Platforms?

According to research we conducted last year, people are looking for more positive content online. 80% of consumers come to platforms like YouTube to improve their mood.1 On top of that, they want brands to serve them ads that both boost and align with their mood.2 

The mood-shifting allure of social platforms has a lot to do with the people responsible for the content – the creators. Conscious advertising, therefore, requires decisions about them. 58% of consumers would stop watching a YouTube channel if they discovered the creator supported causes they don’t agree with.1

Over half of consumers stated they would have a negative opinion of brands who run their ads on content made by creators whose social values they disagree with. It’s up to brands, then, to avoid creators whose content reflects values their target consumers can’t get on board with. 

It’s tricky though. Social media platforms allow users to post whatever they want. Platforms like YouTube remove universally agreed upon bad actors and content, but the rest is up to brands. 

Brands employ brand safety tools to avoid content which is universally agreed upon to be inappropriate, and brand suitability to ensure their ads run in content that aligned with their unique brand image. 

Conscious advertising requires brands to go one step further. It demands that they tap into their core values and ladder their monetization decisions to those values. Even if consumers disagree, the brand can remain confident in their position because the values are consciously written into their DNA. 

When brands run their ads on content, they monetize it. That monetization reflects a decision by them, and it reflects on what they stand for. And consumers, it seems, are paying attention.


1: Consumer Sentiment and Conscious Advertising, 2021, n1000, US 18-65

2: Content Consumption and Consumer Sentiment Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2020, n1000, US 18-65

Google’s Privacy Move Will Make Contextual Targeting Key

Since Google’s privacy announcement last week, the advertising industry has been discussing what it means for the future of advertising, targeting and measurement. One thing that is certain, contextual targeting will become a more important targeting tool. Although the latest announcement sent ripples through the digital advertising industry, brands have already begun to focus on contextual strategies either in lieu of or in addition to their audience targeting.  The trend is clear: we’re headed towards a privacy-first, cookieless future where contextual will again be a major tool in the marketing toolkit.

What You Need to Know

It’s important to know that brands’ YouTube, Google Search and Gmail advertising strategies will remain the same. Logged in users on these platforms will still be individually tracked by Google and brands will still be able to target them. The changes are focussed on the open web, on media inventory that Google doesn’t own but which can be targeted using Google’s AdX ad exchange or the Google Display Network. 

Google’s March 2021 update shed more light on its plans for a cookieless future, having already committed to ending support for 3rd party cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022.  That move followed a growing tide of privacy-first moves by Apple, Safari and Firefox. They all have the goal of stopping users from being tracked across the web and targeted with ads based on the content they’d viewed.

Brands buying ads on non-Google properties using Google’s ad systems will have to target using audience clusters. Otherwise known as the Federated League of Cohorts (or FLoC) method, this approach aggregates audiences rather than allowing individual people to be tracked and targeted.

On certain publisher sites, such as the New York Times, brands will be able to use their first-party data to target people, as well as the new FLoC options.

The changes will cause brands to re-evaluate their media strategies, and they’ll be looking to contextual targeting for some of the answers. 

What Is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting is all about respecting consumer privacy while augmenting the consumer experience. Brands use contextual targeting to run their ads on content that is relevant to their brand, service or product, and consumers receive a more relevant ad experience. 

Behavioral audience targeting finds consumers based on the consumers previous activity online. Focusing exclusively on that type of targeting has downsides. Primarily, it ignores the context people are in when online. Imagine you’re being retargeted for office supplies when you’re looking at restaurant reviews or recipes online. You’re less likely to click on ads relating to printers. However, you’re more likely to engage with a brand like Hello Fresh or McDonalds whose services coincide with the content you’re consuming (and most likely the kind of buying mood you’re in).

In a survey we ran among 1000 U.S. consumers, almost one-third of consumers are all about advertising supporting free content. They just want the ads to be relevant to the content they’re consuming.1 That’s what contextual targeting is all about.

Why Brands Should Prioritize Contextual

Our research shows that when brands align their ads with the context of the content people consume, it makes their ads up to 93% more memorable.2 

Contextual also makes campaigns more effective. We ran a head-to-head test of audience vs. contextual targeting for a major US pizza chain to drive customers to order online. Our custom contextual inclusion list (a list of YouTube videos and channels) drove up to 8.6x more conversions than the audience targeting strategy. Not only that, it drove a 50% decrease in the cost-per-conversion.3 

When brands use contextual targeting, and optimize towards the best performing contexts during their campaign, we’ve seen on average 30% cost efficiencies over time. 

The latest privacy shift is part of a much larger trend towards more consumer friendly experiences. By focusing on content that is contextually relevant to what consumers are consuming online, brands waste far fewer impressions and make their campaigns more efficient and effective. And they give consumers what they’re asking for.


1: Content Consumption and Consumer Sentiment Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2020

2: Contextual Alignment in Video Advertising, 2020

3: Channel Factory Internal Data

3 Reasons for Luxury Brands To Be on YouTube

Luxury brands and glossy magazines have historically been the perfect pair. When the Web took over analog content, many luxury brands did what they do best, they bought against that same glossy inventory online. What resulted is that luxury brands own the lion’s share of a few key publications digital inventory, as well as the YouTube and programmatic inventory across those same publishers. (Think Conde Nast YouTube channels, Conde Nast properties, and Conde Nast programmatic inventory). This strategy helps retain control and ensure safety, relevancy, and audience targeting. This in turn limits the risk inherent across the web and in particular, on user generated content platforms. 

The challenge with this strategy, especially on YouTube, is that it can restrict scale and limit growth. That also limits new customer acquisition by missing out on key audiences that engage with a multitude of content. So how can you buy in premium environments on YouTube for luxury brands without sacrificing scale? By being selective, but not overly restrictive in your approach.  Here are our top 3 reasons for luxury brands to be on YouTube.

1. Premium Environments & Premium Scale

Up to 27% of YouTube content is broadcast quality.1 When you think about how vast a platform YouTube is, the number seems small, but it actually reflects millions of videos and billions of views. With the right strategy, it’s possible to run in premium environments and limit non broadcast quality inventory. And within your targeting strategy, it is important to be prescriptive about the type of content you want to run ads against. YouTube is not a one-size-fits-all platform, and luxury brands should expect a level of customization and contextual targeting that matches their brand voice and ethos. 

Channels like Beauty Insider and the Luxury Travel Expert are examples of the type of content that we have suggested certain luxury brands include in their targeting strategies. Channels like these make it possible to run ads on content which reflects a specific image of a luxury fashion, automotive, alcohol or beauty brand.

2. Luxury Consumers Are on Digital

Between 20 and 30% of luxury sales are generated by consumers making luxury purchases outside their home countries.2  Restricted tourism, as well as cancellations of fashion weeks and trade shows impacted luxury brand’s ability to market their brands in the same way.

Meanwhile, watch time on YouTube increased by 80%. And while people watch more, they also are influenced on digital, with more than three-quarters of all luxury purchases influenced by digital touchpoints like Google and YouTube. In fact, 48% of affluent consumers use Google to learn about products3, and over 40% of shoppers say that they’ve purchased products they’ve seen on YouTube.4 

3. YouTube is Tailored for Luxury Brand Experiences

The pros of working with YouTube are significant: scale and eyeballs. The challenge with a user generated content platform is that it is an ever evolving sea of content, with 500 hours uploaded every minute. This means that proactive content selection is important, particularly for luxury brands. If a brand is thoughtful about their content strategy, YouTube can be an awesome platform for delivering messages by running exclusively against premium content.  Without a strategy for proactive contextual alignment, we’ve seen luxury brands running up to 23% of their media spend on content that’s not right for their brand, reducing efficiency and potentially opening up risk.7 An example? Video-gaming channels, while very popular, are not brand suitable for a lot of luxury brands.

Another benefit of YouTube is the platform’s dominance of the connected TV market. It’s the second largest app for time spent on CTV, and luxury brands are perfect for a bigger screen.5 According to research by Google, CTV ads can drive up to 47% lift in ad recall vs other formats.6 In a recent campaign we ran on YouTube via CTV, we saw a 97% video-completion rate, which is 10% higher than Google benchmarks.

The Results: Luxury Success with Channel Factory

Channel Factory has worked with premium brands from beauty to autos to fashion. We have leveraged our premium targeting solution to find top creators and videos on YouTube which tastemakers, trendsetters and high net worth individuals are watching. 

Through constant optimization of these targeting strategies, we have been able to increase quality scale over time while delivering against the right content for the brand and beating Google click through, view through and video completion benchmarks.

YouTube is the ideal destination for premium content experiences. If luxury brands team up with the right partner, they can reduce media waste against the wrong content, and deliver on their KPIs (such as view-through rate and click-through rate) against their audiences.


1,7: Channel Factory, Internal Data

2: McKinsey, “A Perspective for the Luxury-Good Industry During and After Coronavirus”;

3: February 2020 GlobalWebIndex report on Affluent Consumers

4: Google, Internal Data

5: comScore, March 2020;

6: Ipsos Lab Experiments data, 2018;

TrueView for Action Drives In-Store and Online Action

YouTube’s TrueView for Action (now evolving into “Video Action”) campaigns help drive down funnel action. YouTube audiences are engaged and attentive. According to Google, consumers are 2X more likely to pay attention to ads on YouTube vs. on other social media platforms,1 and 3X more likely to pay attention to online ads vs. ads on TV.2

What’s more, YouTube drives purchase decisions. Over 40% of global shoppers say they’ve purchased products they discovered on YouTube.3 And it all happens at scale, with over 2 billion monthly logged in users on YouTube.

YouTube released their TrueView for Action to help brands reach customers in the lower segment of the marketing funnel. It includes audiences, extensions, measurements, and smart bidding machine learning which helps drive ad conversions. 

86% of people use Google to search for ideas about what product to buy. YouTube’s TrueView for Action helps you grow your business by allowing you to reach audiences who have been searching Google for what you offer.4 Viewers see ads which promote your business with a way for them to take immediate action, and when compared with standard TrueView the results are significant. In some case studies, we’ve seen a 200% increase in conversions and reduced CPA cost vs standard TrueView.5

How Does It Work?

Advertisers can use a variety of different Google property audience types to reach customers based on action, intent and interest.

High Intent Audiences

Custom Intent: audiences created from your already-existing Google Search Keywords]

Remarketing: go after audiences who have already interacted with your brand ads across Google properties

Customer Match: audiences similar to customer contact information imported from your brand CRM.

Mid-Funnel Audiences

Similar Audience: reach new audiences who are similar to your users in your remarketing list and showcase similar buying behavior.

Life Events: audiences on the cusp of major life events like getting married, graduating college, or moving

In-Market: reach people who are actively researching and intending to buy products or services you offer – including those thinking of buying from your competitors

Affinities: reach people based on a holistic picture of their lifestyles, interests, and needs.

It’s smart because even the strongest search campaigns miss undecided shoppers

Brands can layer these audience targeting options with custom inclusion lists that allow them to run in brand suitable environments contextually aligned with their brand, as well as finding high intent consumers.

Pairing these approaches can drive effective lower funnel results. Google’s own research show that TrueView for action campaigns using Custom intent generate 30% higher conversion rates.

Creative Recommendations

A few top tips for creative that works best for TrueView for Action campaigns:

  1. Introduce the brand/product early and as a solution to a problem
  2. Show & tell how the brand works and what makes it great
  3. Include a clear call-to-action or offer
  4. Use both sight and sound because YouTube ads are 95% viewable & 95% audible.
  5. Build for small screens by using close framing, big text, and bright footage to stand out

Some Real Life Examples

airbnb wanted to get people thinking about and booking their 5 million listings in 81,000 cities around the world, especially in markets where they face stiff competition. They used YouTube for action to drive 14% increase in bookings, proving a brand campaign can impact sales, as well as a 142% increase in branded search terms.

Their creative approach: airbnb developed highly tailored creative using Affinity Audiences to align with video content people were likely to watch. For example, if someone was about to watch a video related to water sports, they would see the ad featuring a host with a passion for surfing.

Their Targeting approach: airbnb used TrueView for Action’s Smart Bidding and Google’s Consumer Patterns targeting to under- stand where to find audiences most likely to consider their hosts’ properties. They also tested different consumer engagements along the way to understand and optimize their customer’s journey. 

TrueView for Action enables brands to convert intent into action. To learn more about YouTube, check out our Ultimate Guide to YouTube.


1: Google/Ipsos, Video Mobile Diary, US, 2017, n of 4,381 (saw ads occasions). Online video includes video platforms such as YouTube & Hulu, social platforms such as Facebook & Snapchat and TV Full Episode Players like NBC.com.

2: Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, Video Ad Cross-Platform Biometrics Research commissioned by Google. Conducted in the US using 8 advertisements, 4 platforms and 400 participants, 18-35 year olds, Nielsen CNS Lab, Boston, US 2016

3: Google/Ipsos, Global (U.S., CA, BR, U.K., DE, FR, JP, IN, KR, AU), “How People Shop with YouTube” Study, 18–64-year-olds who go online at least monthly and have purchased something in the last year, n=24,017, July 2018.   

4: Google Internal Data, 2020

5: Google Internal Data, 2020   

Brand Suitability Best Practices

Up to 90% of marketers think appearing next to unsuitable content impacts a brand’s reputation1. Building a brand suitability strategy is essential. But where do you start? 

Brand suitability takes a little more thought than brand safety. Brand Safety is about avoiding content that people universally agree should be blocked. Think sexually suggestive, profanity riddled, drug-related or violent content. 

On the other hand, brand suitability is all about the content which, while brand safe, may not be appropriate for a specific brand. Every brand has a unique image, customer base and even geo-location.  Those all factor into their brand suitability profile.

Think ASMR, pranks, or slime.  As we closed out 2020, ASMR counted amongst the most highly viewed channels and videos of the year. But this Internet oddity doesn’t work for every advertiser.

We put together 5 tips to help brands build out their brand suitability strategy.

Tip 1 – Determine the type of content that makes the most sense for your brand

Ask yourself – what audience are we looking to connect with? What types of content might they be watching, and don’t just focus on the obvious stuff. If you’re an auto brand, car buyers may well be watching auto content. However, when launching your new SUV spot, you’re likely considering content new parents might be watching.

Begin by picking 5 channels or videos that you want to surround. Use that as a starting point to build an inclusion list. Companies like Channel Factory use algorithms designed to take that selection of videos and scale them up. We turn them into contextually aligned, brand suitability optimized lookalike video and channel lists you can run ads against.

Tip 2 – What does your brand want to avoid specifically?  

Most brands stand for something, and have a sense of mission, culture, and values. Think about your brand values and what type of content may not make sense for you. That’ll become your brand suitability profile. Are you an auto brand that does not want to appear next to alcohol content, for example?  It’s best to echo your brand values in the content you choose to run ads on and stay away from any themes that may be harmful.

Tip 3 – Think about the types of content that you would consider suitable versus those you would not

Have a think about content which, while brand safe, might be brand unsuitable specifically for your brand. Examples may include ASMR, pranks, video games, music with expletives, primitive/hunting, slime etc.  

While a lot of this is harmless, entertaining content, always be thinking:– if my ad showed up before, during or after this video, what would that association say about my brand?

Tip 4 – Tailor

Brands in multiple markets will want to tailor their strategy by considering local language and cultural factors. Countries like Italy take a much more relaxed approach to nudity, for example, so running ads against slightly racier content might be fine for your brand’s strategy there, but when building your U.S. media plan, that content may be struck. It’s the beauty of culture that it’s so different everywhere – but that same diversity can endanger brands taking a one-size-fits-all approach to their brand suitability profile.

Tip 5 – Consider any applicable laws

Each country has its own laws and advertising standards and that can impact brand suitability. Make sure to be read up on national/regional laws and industry trade bodies who might put limits on the sorts of things you can claim. That might also include what audiences you can target. For example, in the US COPPA laws govern how brands can advertise to kids and LDA laws govern alcohol marketing. Be sure your inclusion list avoids any legal pitfalls around certain audiences and content.

Added Value Tip – Select the Right Partner

Not all media plans are created equal. YouTube contains a lot of video content: sorting, categorizing and evaluating each video and channel’s brand suitability requires sophisticated technology. It only takes one ad to cause headaches for your brand, so choose wisely.  

Channel Factory Grows Team

Channel Factory’s global growth has fueled the need to ensure the company has an executive team in place to deliver against strategic goals. Adding to our leadership team is a part of our growth strategy to ensure we are creating the right leadership structure to continue to drive significant growth in EMEA, APAC, and the Americas.

In the US, we are promoting and hiring key members to the sales, strategy and client solutions teams to deliver the right strategies to our key advertisers. Channel Factory’s global growth has prompted new hires and promotions necessary to bolster the executive team in order to deliver against strategic goals and forward-looking visions. The key moves are outlined below:

Jed Hartman has been promoted to the role of President, Americas. He will be overseeing sales, marketing, and client solutions to create an end to end team capable of delivering  comprehensive solutions for brands and agencies. Hartman joined Channel Factory in 2019 as Chief Commercial Officer, bringing experience leading commercial and revenue teams at Washington Post, Time Inc., and Dennis Publishing. He will now expand his remit to further drive growth in the Americas.  Jed’s cutting edge experience across advertising, publishing and corporate brand strategy drive awareness, adoption, and customer satisfaction with global brands and agencies for Channel Factory. Jed lives in Connecticut with his wife, daughter, and dogs Archie and Allie.

Mattias Spetz now expands his management role and is President of EMEA and APAC. Mattias is a veteran of digital video innovation, building mobile-first digital video advertising products at Smartclip before YouTube even launched its first ad formats. Drawing on experience across the digital, OTT and broadcast TV ecosystem, Mattias joined Channel Factory to nurture what had been missing in his previous roles: using awesome technology and a strong team to improve the overall health and values of the digital video advertising ecosystem. When he’s not raising digital tides, he’s spending time with wife, two kids and friends watching ice hockey.

Jeremy Haft

Jeremy Haft, Channel Factory’s Chief Revenue Officer, is responsible for accelerating the North American growth and revenue plans for Channel Factory and advancing the company’s sales approach, strategy, and new revenue streams. He joins Channel Factory in February 2021, moving from Amobee, where he served as SVP of Sales working across North American brands and agencies to consolidate cross channel media activation through programmatic solutions. Prior to Amobee, Haft helped build and scale businesses, transform sales strategies and amplify revenue growth for Viant, Visible Measures, Lotame, and MediaPost. Jeremy lives in New Jersey and in his spare time he enjoys traveling to tropical locations, cooking feasts with friends, and any new fitness trend he can get his hands on

Robin Zieme has been promoted to Chief Strategy Officer. The role will see Robin develop and execute strategic initiatives to drive further financial growth and client acquisition in line with the company’s overall vision. Robin is a true innovator, with roots across both the buy and sell side of the digital ad ecosystem. Robin’s deep experience includes running agency trading deals at Amobee and leading Adconion’s video efforts internationally and across North America. He now drives leading-edge advertising technology solutions, always creating new ideas and solving problems for Channel Factory. Robin helps build and create multinational opportunities and strike deals that help drive Channel Factory’s vision of creating a better digital video ecosystem for advertisers, users, and creators. Robin lives in the southern forests of Sweden with his wife and three children.

Jenny Chau

Jenny Chau has been promoted to Chief Solutions Officer. Jenny was previously SVP of Strategy and Client Operations. She joined Channel Factory in 2015. A digital technology industry veteran, Jenny oversees Channel Factory’s Client Solutions team. She is a media strategy guru that achieves client satisfaction across a wide variety of verticals and regions. Prior to joining Channel Factory, Jenny was busy refining her skills at major, award-winning agencies such as OMD, GroupM, and Horizon Media. Jenny lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids Mia and Teddy, as well as their dogs Shortie and Peanut. When she’s not ensuring Channel Factory’s clients are receiving superior outcomes, she’s cooking and doing arts & crafts with Teddy, building forts and playing peekaboo with Mia.

Eren Pamir

Eren Pamir has been promoted to Chief Financial Officer. Eren previously held the role of Vice President of Finance and Corporate Development, joining the team in 2019. Eren has over 15 years of experience working in the financial sector, beginning in mergers & acquisitions at Lazard Freres, and moving on to hedge funds and fintech startup Seek Capital before joining Channel Factory where he focuses on building out the company’s investments and financial strategy. Eren lives with his wife in Los Angeles, with their dog Bruno. Eren is an avid hiker, gourmet food and wine enthusiast, and also volunteers with the Anti-Defamation League.