Tuesday Wake-Up Call: YouTube's 'New Approach' to Ads. Plus, Outdoors Brands Stand Up to Trump

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Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today
Patagonia, REI and The North Face are speaking out about President Trump's decision to shrink the size of federally protected public land in Utah. Patagonia even says it will sue the Trump administration over the decision, as Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli reports. The retailer's U.S. web site turned black on Monday, with a message reading, "The president stole your land." The North Face and REI also took a stand, albeit less fiercely. The North Face website said it's donating $100,000 to build an education center outside Utah's Bears Ears National Monument, and it invited shoppers to donate too. Meanwhile, REI's website opens to a message that reads, "We (heart) our public lands."

Marketer of the year
Tito's Handmade Vodka was founded 20 years ago "under the then-ridiculous proposition of a Texas-distilled 'handmade vodka,'" as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. But nobody's laughing anymore, and Tito's is the top-selling variety of spirits in U.S. stores. It's also the biggest winner in Ad Age's Marketer of the Year list. Tito's embodies the trend of upstarts luring consumers away from established brands owned by conglomerates. It follows its own path – for example, it's not interested in targeting, as Schultz writes, since its philosophy is that "if you have a liver, we deliver." Read more here about Tito's and the others on Ad Age's Marketer of the Year list, including Nintendo, Halo Top and The New York Times.

Also: Ad Age's Datacenter crunched the numbers to come up with its annual (and essential) global ranking of the world's largest advertisers. As Ad Age's Bradley Johnson writes, Procter & Gamble once again tops the list of big spenders, but the big growth is coming from Chinese players, including tech giants Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.

'A new approach to advertising on YouTube'
Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, is setting the goal of having 10,000 content moderators across Google by next year (though she doesn't say how many there are currently.) In a blog post reacting to the Google-owned video platform's brand safety problems, she also promises:

"a new approach to advertising on YouTube, carefully considering which channels and videos are eligible for advertising. We are planning to apply stricter criteria, conduct more manual curation, while also significantly ramping up our team of ad reviewers to ensure ads are only running where they should."

That seems potentially significant, but it's still vague. Stay tuned. The post is a reaction to the brand safety issues that have flared up for YouTube a few times this year, most recently with some advertisers leaving the platform after they discovered their ads were running on videos popular with pedophiles.

Also: Business Insider says YouTube will raise prices for "reserved" inventory starting in January. Citing unnamed ad execs, the report says prices for certain top U.S. channels could jump by nearly 20 percent. Is this part of YouTube's new direction? And is YouTube cashing in on the fact that advertisers are looking for safer venues for their messages?

Get 'em while they're young
Facebook is debuting a version of Messenger for kids, and the company has clearly been very, very careful about this move. "There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads," Facebook says in a post. The app is almost entirely controlled by parents – for example, parents need to approve all their kids' contacts. But not all parents are going to be happy about Facebook trying to woo kids so young. And given everything that's happened in the last year, Facebook has to overcome trust issues on this one.

Just briefly:

News Corp.: News Corp. is working on a "new platform to let advertisers reach audiences across all of its online properties," Axios reports. It's called News IQ, and it' s an attempt to wrest more online ad dollars away from the duopoly, Google and Facebook.

House of Cards: With Kevin Spacey accused of sexual misconduct, "House of Cards" will resume production next year without him, with Robin Wright as the star, The Hollywood Reporter says.

Super Bowl updates: Coca-Cola will have a new spot in the Super Bowl (after re-airing an old spot last year), as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports. And Kia will come back for the ninth straight year.

Robotaxis: Nissan's self-driving "robotaxis" will start test drives in Japan in March, The Wall Street Journal says.

The voice: Voice assistants will be big this holiday season. A study from SAP Hybris suggests that 38 percent of smart assistant owners would consider using them for holiday shopping this year. But as Ad Age's Megan Graham writes, "though the devices are rapidly proliferating, some consumers remain flummoxed by them."

London calling: Ad Age's Emma Hall profiled the London ad scene, and there's a lot that may surprise you. Such as this: Anomaly's London office is located near one of the Black Death plague pits.

Donuts: Dunkin' Donuts put its creative business up for review, after nearly two decades with Hill Holliday, Ad Age's Lindsay Stein and Jessica Wohl write.

It's raining men: The six keynote speakers listed on the website of CES, the annual consumer tech show in Las Vegas, are all men, and some marketers are criticizing the organizers for that, as Ad Age's Megan Graham writes.

Awful: The office of Illinois' attorney general is investigating a bus company for possible civil rights violations because of an ad it ran targeting college students, The Chicago Tribune reports. The ad seemed to disparage Chinese students.

Trash talking: The Daily Beast says "women had accounts banned from Facebook for responding to male trolls with sentences like 'men are trash.'"

Out: MSNBC plans to part ways with contributor Sam Seder because of a sarcastic tweet he wrote eight years ago that joked about Roman Polanski and rape, The Wrap says. Partly because right-wing activist Mike Cernovich had drawn attention to the tweet, MSNBC's decision is controversial.

Headline of the day: "I ate Trump's absurd, 2,430-calorie McDonald's order — and it was even worse than I imagined," from Business Insider.

Creativity pick of the day: Your Amazon Alexa device "can now be your wingman" when you play Activision's game, "Destiny 2," as Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes. AKQA created some ways for the Alexa to interact with the game.

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