Thursday, 27 April, 2017

M&S is the latest brand to withdraw advertising from Google

Spots Pulled by Firms on YouTube Marks & Spencer joins McDonald's, L'Oreal, Audi, BBC in boycotting Google
Mae Harvey | 21 March, 2017, 00:32

As reported, last month, it emerged that big-name advertisers, including vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover and media and information firm Thomson Reuters, have suspended or limited their United Kingdom digital advertising spending following a report in The Times, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, that said that their ads have appeared on hate sites and next to videos on Google's YouTube from supporters of Islamic terrorists and other extremist groups.

According to press reports, over the past few days, numerous UK's largest brands working with agencies beyond Havas (including the UK Government, L'Oreal, RBS, HSBC, Sainsbury's, Sky, Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Audi) also indicated that they would suspend their advertising on YouTube and / or other Google ad products because of identical concerns.

"I would like to apologise to our partners and advertisers who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content", Brittin said in a statement.

Google has taken a beating the past week for letting ads appear next to extremist content, but the world's second-largest advertiser is unfazed.

"In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through", M&S said in a statement Monday.

Ronan Harris, the head of YouTube for the United Kingdom said through a statement that will millions of sites in its network and 400 hours of video being uploaded each minute to YouTube we are aware that we do not always make it right and pledged that more would be done. Accordingly, they just followed the moves of multinational companies like L'Oreal, Audi, and McDonald's, O2, Royal Mail, Havas, and Marks & Spencer.

Google was subsequently hauled in front of Cabinet Office officials to explain itself, and yesterday, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds cut their Google ad spend in light of the revelations.

Mr Brittin seems confident that by having a thorough look at its policies and showing advertisers how they can control where their messages appear, Google can regain their confidence.

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The main issue appears to be with automatic advertising, as Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange initiative relies on programmatic buying to match mainstream brands with content. Google now accounts for 85 per cent of all digital ad spend in the United Kingdom, and while it removed almost two billion offensive ads and blacklisted 100,000 publishers past year, it is still falling short in providing a completely brand-safe environment. "When anything like this happens we take responsibility for it".

The British government said last week that it would temporarily restrict its advertising on the company's platforms. "We need to stand back and not roll from one issue to another", he added.

Michael Roth, chief executive officer of Interpublic Group of Cos., warned that the New York-based advertising company would also pull ads from YouTube if it doesn't police the platform more thoroughly to avoid awkward juxtapositions for advertisers. Automating a system like the one it now uses to automatically match ads against content adopts an "ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies" approach - by hiding behind algorithms, Google only has to intervene once someone (human) flags the match as inappropriate.

Internet giants including Facebook and Google have historically absolved themselves of responsibility for some of the content hosted on their platforms by insisting they are "technology companies" rather than media outlets, meaning they can not be regulated and fined in the way that newspapers, books or magazines would be if they published the views of extremists.

Google has responded, saying that its policies work as intended "in the vast majority of cases, protecting users and advertisers from harmful or inappropriate content".

Inevitably other media, particularly those on the right politically, have seized on the problems to engage in their much-loved sport of Google-bashing.

"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".

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