Chase’s CMO Says YouTube Isn’t Taking Enough Steps to Control Brand Safety

Kristin Lemkau wants more control over which channels run ads

Chase's CMO Kristin Lemkau talks about finding quality digital ads. Getty Images
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

CANNES, France—Even as YouTube’s ad boycott starts to thaw, JPMorgan Chase’s CMO doesn’t believe the platform is taking enough steps to combat brand safety.

During a Cannes panel with Knotch, a company that counts Chase and GE as clients and works with marketers to understand data and how effective their advertising is, Kristin Lemkau, JPMorgan Chase’s CMO, talked about the brand’s recent work analyzing where its digital ads run. Her statement comes after a number of big brands including Chase, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson pulled their YouTube ads this spring after discovering they were running alongside offensive content.

Part of the problem, Lemkau argued, is that brand safety can’t be treated the same for every brand. While some marketers favor reach, Chase would rather buy fewer high-quality ads, even if they come at a premium price.

“We’ll remain off YouTube until we feel like there’s a solution that will allow us to be brand safe to our standard, which is hard for those guys because every brand is going to draw the line differently,” Lemkau said.

“We’ll remain off YouTube until we feel like there’s a solution that will allow us to be brand safe to our standard.”
Kristin Lemkau, CMO, JPMorgan Chase

Later in the session, she clarified what Chase is looking for in order to move ad dollars back to YouTube, citing the platform’s recent decision to increase the number of lifetime views for a channel to start making money to 10,000.

“We would have to make a judgment about every channel and every creator, and I’m willing to pay a premium for that,” Lemkau said. “I’m not sure 10,000 lifetime views is high enough. The creators should earn the right to be monetized.”

Chase ran a Facebook ad campaign and asked the agency to price the ad based on reach, leading to 20 percent viewability. After switching to measuring views, viewability went up to 50 percent.

“It’s a whole other debate whether completed views or partial views versus actual impressions are going to drive results, but we had asked them to measure the wrong thing. And I think we’re pretty astute about it,” Lemkau said.

Chase also whittled the number of sites it serves ads on from 400,000 to 5,000 this spring after The New York Times found the brand’s ads running on a fake news site called Hillary 4 Prison. Chase first calculated that 12,000 of those sites generated clicks, but only 5,000 were deemed brand safe.

The same approach to transparency in media buying also applies to creativity, Lemkau said. The brand also tests multiple versions of creative before it goes live, which she said is “the end of the focus group.”

“You no longer need to make that one epic, 30-second spot like Don Draper did to appeal to everyone—you have the freedom to put multiple versions of creative out there to drive different business results for different audiences,” she said.

However, in a Knotch analysis of how much content marketers produce, Chase realized it was putting out significantly more content than others but that others are beating the company in engagement.

“We have a lot of stuff that isn’t all that interesting, and someone else is spending less money and getting a better result,” Lemkau said.

She added that getting ingrained in the nuts and bolts of technology is part of a bigger shift in the changing role of CMO.

Lemkau said she spends one-third to half of her time working on the brand’s internal tech to better understand data and make ad spending more efficient.

“The CMO’s job has gotten a whole lot harder,” Lemkau said. “There was a time when you didn’t have your GRP load, and you’d sponsor a golf tournament, you’d call your agency and call it a day. Now you have to be a technologist. You have to know your tech stack up and down. You have to be a media planner. You have to be a media buyer. You have to be a judge of multiple versions of creative. It just becomes a lot harder for marketers and the industry to stay up to speed.”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.