Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Unilever isn't flogging Google for misplaced ads

Unilever isn't flogging Google for misplaced ads

A report by the Times uncovered the issue with Google's advertising tool that placed United Kingdom government and brand ads on extremist YouTube videos and websites.

Google is scrambling to respond to criticism after three of the UK's biggest banks pulled their adverts from its platform after their campaigns appeared alongside extremist YouTube videos.

Google already provides controls that allow advertisers to choose where their ads go, said Matt Brittin, Google's president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

A Google spokesman said last week: "We have strict guidelines that define where Google ads should appear, and in the vast majority of cases, our policies work as intended, protecting users and advertisers from harmful or inappropriate content".

He said WPP's GroupM, a major ad buyer, was talking to Google "at the highest levels to encourage them to find answers to these brand safety issues".

Google has begun a review of its ads policies and brand controls and in the coming weeks will be providing brands with more control over where ads appear across YouTube and Google Display Network.

Major organisations including McDonald's, L'Oreal and the Government have pulled their marketing from YouTube after it emerged that ads had run against videos containing extreme material, such as clips by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

HSBC said in a statement on Monday it takes "breach of our digital advertising standards very seriously and have put advertising with Google on hold at this time".

Havas spends about £35 million a year on the search engine on behalf of United Kingdom advertisers.

Martin Sorrell, CEO of the global advertising firm WPP, said that Google must do more.

Media-buying firms are also increasingly resentful of the power wielded by Google and Facebook Inc., claiming the two companies operate a global duopoly over online advertising.

"The fundamental issue is that you [Google] have to take responsibility for this as a media company". French advertising company Havas SA said it was removing certain clients' spots from the site after it failed to get assurances that they wouldn't appear alongside offensive videos. The accusation is that Google is "profiting from hate" since it obviously gathers revenue from the ads shown with extremist content and passes a proportion on to to the video poster.

The company's first steps will be to review where and how ads are placed and a stronger enforcement of keeping inappropriate content off the site.

"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".

"We are now seeking reassurances from Google as to how they can improve its filters to ensure this does not happen in the future".

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