Google apologized to its partners and advertisers after making a mistake placing advertisements next to offensive contents on YouTube, its video-sharing website.
Several companies including Marks & Spencer Group (LON: MKS), HSBC Holdings (NYSE: HSBC), and L’Oreal (EPA: OR) pulled out advertisements from YouTube.
The British government also suspended its advertising on YouTube. Some of the government’s public sector ads were placed alongside videos with anti-semitic and homophobic messages.
“I would like to apologize to our partners and advertisers who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content,” said Google EMEA President Matt Brittin during the annual Advertising Week Europe in London.
Google implements comprehensive review of ads
Brittin said brands should not appear alongside offensive videos on YouTube and “we need to do better.” He added that Google invested millions and has thousands of employees to ensure that “advertising practices are good.”
The search engine giant implemented a comprehensive review of the matter and exploring ways to make an improvement. “We are accelerating that review,” said Brittin.
He explained that it is not easy to just remove contents that relate to war or politics because some of them could be important news of documentary. According to him, Google is reviewing its controls and policies and looking at different enforcement methods.
“Firstly on policies, this is about what content within YouTube do we deem to be safe for advertisers, and we’re going to raise the bar on that. That would include things like looking at our definition of hate speech, or our definition of inflammatory content so that we raise the bar on what is deemed acceptable for advertising,” said Brittin.
Brittin spoke to a number of advertisers personally about a “handful of impression and pennies not pounds of spend.” He emphasized that “however small or big the issue; it is an important issue that we address.”
Google faces a hostile industry in Europe
Brian Wiser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told Reuters that Google is confronting a “hostile industry of media owners in Europe” and he expected them to “all too happy to highlight future brand safety failings.”
He believes that the problem will have repercussions globally as marketers in the United Kingdom adapt and extend their UK policies to other markets.
WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrel pointed out that Google and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) should practice standards similar to traditional media companies.
“They’ve always maintained they were sort of digital engineers standing there with their digital spanners, trying to tighten the nuts on their digital pipes and not being responsible for the content that was going through the pipes,” said Sorrel.
“We have always said Google, Facebook, and others are media companies and have the same responsibilities as any other media companies.”
Sorrel also emphasized that the decision to withdraw ads from digital platforms will not solve the problem. He encouraged advertisers to increase their cooperation with the tech giants. He believes that the tech giants understand the problem and must step up to control it.
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