Friday 17 November 2017

Google Ireland faces boycott over ads in extremist videos

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

A NUMBER of major Irish advertisers are to consider suspending their ad campaigns with Google Ireland following claims that their ads are supporting extremist videos on YouTube.

"We have outlined concerns and offered [clients] the choice of pausing their YouTube and Google Display Network activity should they wish to do so," said Graham Taylor, chief executive of Havas Media Ireland, an advertising agency that represents companies such as Hyundai, Emirates and the FAI.

The move comes after companies including Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Tesco withdrew advertising from Google in the UK because of their ads being displayed by Google in extremist YouTube videos. Havas in the UK has also pulled advertising on behalf of UK-based clients.

The controversial videos include content deemed to be anti-semitic and pro-rape. Under Google's advertising system, creators of such videos get paid around €7 for every thousand clicks.

The row has led to an apology from the head of Google in Europe and a promise to amend the company's video ad system.

"I would like to apologise to our partners and advertisers who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content," said Matt Brittin, head of Google in Europe. "We have a review under way on how we can improve. We are accelerating that review."

Matt Brittin, head of Google in Europe. Photo: Bloomberg
Matt Brittin, head of Google in Europe. Photo: Bloomberg

A spokeswoman for Google Ireland said that the company could not comment on behalf of Irish advertisers.

However, the head of Google UK, former Google Ireland boss Ronan Harris said that the search giant would shortly provide more control for ad agencies to decide which content could surround a client's ad.

"We've heard from our advertisers and agencies loud and clear that we can provide simpler, more robust ways to stop their ads from showing against controversial content," said Mr Harris. "We can do a better job of addressing the small number of inappropriately monetised videos and content. We've begun a thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls and we will be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network."

Ad agencies receive as much as 15pc commission from large companies to control how and where their ads appear.

To date, the ad boycott appears limited to the UK, with Irish advertisers continuing to place ads despite the extremist content.

"This was a UK decision," said Mr Taylor. "Discussions between our UK office and Google are ongoing and we are expecting an update from them in the next 24 to 48 hours."

The advertising controversy comes after the European Commission issued a stark warning to social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter that they must clamp down on online scams or face punitive action.

Brussels said that scams such as "subscription traps" and fake promotions are proliferating, with bogus competitions and similar frauds now rife on social networks.

It also criticised Facebook, Twitter and Google for terms and conditions that purport to appoint courts in California as the arbiter instead of courts in the EU country in which the user lives.

"It is not acceptable that EU consumers can only call on a court in California to resolve a dispute," said Vera Jourova, the EU Commissioner for Justice.

Irish Independent

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