Google seeks to stem flow of big groups pulling adverts over extremist videos
Google’s European operations boss has publicly apologised to advertisers after a growing crisis over extremist content on YouTube led big companies, including Marks and Spencer and Havas ,to freeze their Google ads.
“Whenever anything like that happens, we don’t want it to happen and we take responsibility for it,” said Matt Brittin, president of Google’s business and operations in the region. “We apologise.”
But, speaking at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London, Mr Brittin refused to answer questions on whether Google would start proactively policing content on its platforms.
A Times investigation last week revealed that ads from the UK government, as well as companies such as supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and cosmetics group L’Oréal, were displayed alongside inappropriate content on YouTube. This included videos by David Duke, a US white nationalist, Wagdy Ghoneim, a banned Egyptian preacher, and Steven Anderson, a fundamentalist Christian pastor who has praised the murder of gay people.
Speaking at AWE, Keith Weed, chief marketing officer of Unilever, one of Google’s biggest ad spenders, said it was right that technology groups such as Google and Facebook were being held to account but added that the whole advertising industry needed to take action: “We need to smart en up .”
Google said it would change how it controlled and enforced appropriate advertising on its platforms. It pledged to exercise more control over where ads were placed and to be better at reviewing content. Further details are expected this week.
Google only reviews content flagged by its users. It cites the volume of video uploaded to YouTube — 400 hours every minute — as the reason why it does not police all content proactively. About 98 per cent of content flagged on YouTube is reviewed in 24 hours, the company says. “We know we can do even more here,” Mr Brittin said.
Marks and Spencer froze its advertisingon Google and You Tube yesterday.
Michael Roth, chief executive of Interpublic, one of the biggest advertising groups, warned it could also freeze spending if Google did not quickly corrected the problem. “If they can’t fix it then we are not going to participate,” hesaid.