Sunday 19 November 2017

Major Irish advertisers confirm boycott of Google over extremist YouTube videos

Photo: PA
Photo: PA
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

One of Ireland’s biggest advertising agencies has confirmed that it has begun a boycott of YouTube advertising on behalf of some of Ireland’s largest brands.

Core Media, which represents Heineken, AIB and the National Lottery among others, is pulling all ad campaigns on the video channel over concerns that ads are appearing within videos that include extremist content.

“Until we are confident that a solution to the brand safety challenge is in place, Core Media is pausing all ad campaigns on YouTube and GDN,” said Alan Cox, chief executive of Core Media.

The move comes after another ad agency, Havas Media Ireland, said that it was consulting with clients such as Hyundai, Emirates and the FAI over whether or not to suspend ad campaigns on YouTube and Google.

Companies such as Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Tesco have already withdrawn advertising from YouTube in the UK because of their ads being placed within extremist YouTube videos. Such videos include rape apologists, anti-semitism and terrorist propaganda.

Under Google's advertising system, creators of such videos get paid around €7 for every thousand clicks.

"There is a small percentage of inventory they're selling where ads are at risk of being displayed beside inappropriate content,” said Justin Cullen, chief digital and data officer for Core Media.

“Some clients are concerned that their brands might be in a compromising position and we've relayed those concerns to Google."

However, the boycott does not apply to Google search ads, where Google makes much of its advertising revenue.

Mr Cullen said that Core Media will now begin whitelisting and blacklisting sites and content on behalf of clients who are concerned about where their brands appear.

Core Media, which has 300 employees here, purchased €225m of media advertising in Ireland last year. Its stance comes as more senior Google executives offer apologies and system reform to assuage advertisers' fears.

The company's chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, said that Google will hire more people to address ads appearing alongside extremist content and, in some cases, to block such content altogether.

"We deeply apologise," said Philipp Schindler, chief business officer in Google. "We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us. We're taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. We'll be hiring significant numbers of people and developing new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising.

"We won't stop at taking down ads. The YouTube team is taking a hard look at our existing community guidelines to determine what content is allowed on the platform - not just what content can be monetised."

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