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Google in Hot Water Over Ads Appearing Next to Extremist Content on YouTube

A number of European companies are pulling their advertising from YouTube after ads they had paid for appeared next to controversial content.

Marks and Spencer, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Audi, the BBC, the Guardian newspaper, advertising firm France’s Havas and the U.K. government have all pulled their ads from the platform over concerns their reputations would be damaged because their ads had appeared alongside offensive videos, such as clips advocating for terrorism and anti-Semitism.

Google U.K. managing director Ronan Harris apologized for the occurrences in a blog post and pledged the company would do more to protect the reputations of its advertisers.

“We’ve heard from our advertisers and agencies loud and clear that we can provide simpler, more robust ways to stop their ads from showing against controversial content. While we have a wide variety of tools to give advertisers and agencies control over where their ads appear, such as topic exclusions and site category exclusions, we can do a better job of addressing the small number of inappropriately monetized videos and content,” Harris said.

“We’ve begun a thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls, and we will be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network. We are committed to working with publishers, advertisers and agencies to address these issues and earn their trust every day so that they can use our services both successfully and safely.”

According to a BBC article, an ad that surfaces next to a video earns the creator of the content roughly $7.44 US for every 1,000 clicks it generates. As the publication pointed out, this means brands could unknowingly contribute money to racist or extremist organizations.

Harris was quick to point out that it can be difficult not to catch every ad placement error immediately because of the massive amount of uploads to its video site — approximately 400 hours per minute.

“We recognize that we don’t always get it right,” he said. “In a very small percentage of cases, ads appear against content that violates our monetization policies. We promptly remove the ads in those instances, but we know we can and must do more.”

It is a sure bet that Google is giving the issue its full attention — it does not want to lose more advertisers and will also be doing all it can to regain the accounts it has lost.

About the author


Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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