Google Apologizes For Putting Ads On Offensive Content — YouTube Advertising Issues

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The shake-up follows a storm of protest from major United Kingdom companies and others - including the Government - which pulled their advertising from Google's YouTube site after it was shown alongside hate-filled content uploaded by users.

Google has responded to major companies withdrawing online adverts by promising to take "a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content".

The company also noted that it would make a hiring push and try to advance its technology to keep the issue at bay.

Schindler also promised new tools for advertisers in coming months that will enable them to to more easily manage where their ads appear across Google and YouTube, as well as controls that enable advertisers to exclude specific sites or channels from their campaigns.

Finally, advertisers will be offered "more transparency and visibility on where their ads are running". But he declined to say whether Google would actively look for extremist content, instead of waiting for users to flag it, according to The Guardian.

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A boycott by firms anxious about damaging their image could cause serious harm to Google as advertising makes up the overwhelming majority of the internet giant's revenue. Sky and Vodafone are considering taking similar action, with a spokesperson from Sky stating, "It is clearly unacceptable for ads to be appearing alongside inappropriate content and we are talking with Google to understand what they are doing to stop this". In light of these numbers, and cases where "brands' ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values", a stricter ad policy was needed.

The apology from Matt Brittin, president of Google's Europe, Middle East and Africa division, came after United Kingdom banks HSBC and RBS, along with major retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S), chose to suspend their adverts from appearing on platforms such as YouTube.

"There are brands who have reached out to us and are talking to our teams about whether they are affected or concerned by this", said Brittin.

ISBA, a British organization created to protect the interests of British advertisers, also put out a statement urging Google to review its policies "to eliminate the risk of brands being damaged by inappropriate context". As reported in Reuters, the giant internet company generated nearly $7.8 billion from advertising a year ago. It has been designing a new platform that will allow the advertisers and agencies to see where the adverts appear and what comes with them. Brands can opt in to advertise on broader types of content if they choose. That should help advertisers avoid awkward situations like those that prompted the boycott in the first place, where advertisers only discovered their ads were showing up on extremist content after a Times report.