Don’t Outrun The Bear, Just Outrun Facebook
Perception is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s not about what you do, it’s how you’re perceived by others around you that defines who you are. This lesson is being played out right now in the digital marketing arena between Facebook and YouTube. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month you know Facebook is under attack for its unauthorized sharing of user data. But what you probably didn’t hear as much about is the disclosure that YouTube is still running ads from hundreds of brands next to controversial content. Yes, this is the same brand safety issue YouTube had last Spring – they never cleaned up their act.
So why the double standard where Facebook gets mauled while YouTube gets a free pass? Digiday has some interesting theories tied to the nature of each publishers’ problem. Facebook’s data breach is personal down to the individual user level. When they leaked user information they effectively breached a social contract, which is a huge deal for that individual. In contrast YouTube’s failure to insure a safe ad environment is more abstract, because its effecting brands and not humans so its somehow less personal.
For me the difference between the reactions to Facebook’s and YouTube’s problems come down to the old proverb about outrunning a charging bear. If the bear is chasing more than one person you don’t need to outrun the bear – you just need to outrun the slowest runner. I think YouTube (and their owner Google) figured that lesson out a while ago.