AT&T and Verizon are the latest major companies — and the first in the U.S. — to pull their advertising from Google’s YouTube platform over concerns of being linked to extremist video content.
AT&T has said it will remove ads from the non-search inventory on Google because it is “deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate.”
“Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms,” AT&T said in a statement to the media.
Verizon stated similar concerns, telling Variety it had halted all digital advertising not related to search.
Verizon said it made its decision after some of its ads appeared on “non-sanctioned websites.”
“We take careful measure to ensure our brand is not impacted negatively,” Verizon said in a statement. “Once we were notified that our ads were appearing on non-sanctioned websites, we took immediate action to suspend this type of ad placement and launched an investigation. We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future.”
Although AT&T and Verizon are the first U.S. brands to pull their advertising from YouTube, the telecommunication companies join a growing list of unhappy European advertisers such as Marks and Spencer, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, McDonald’s, L’Oreal and Audi.
The European brands all said they had concerns about their reputations being tarnished after their ads appeared alongside offensive videos, such as clips advocating for terrorism and anti-Semitism.
Google, meanwhile, has promised to hire more people as part of its push to better review ad placements. The tech titan also vowed to offer an “escalation path,” making it easier for advertisers to complain, enabling the resolution of such cases within a few hours.
“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values. So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content,” Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler said in a blog post.
“This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.”
Schindler said Google is implementing changes in three main areas: ad policies, enforcement of these policies and new controls for advertisers. The changes are part of Google’s “extensive review” of its advertising policies and tools.
Google will also offer advertisers “more transparency and visibility on where their ads are running,” and in the coming months will expand availability of video-level reporting to all advertisers, Schindler said.