Google helps advertisers steer clear of hate speech
Marketers to get more control over where messages are displayed.
Google moved Tuesday to protect its lucrative advertising business by giving marketers greater control over where their ads appear online, after major clients withdrew spots that were shown next to hate speech and other offensive material.
Google has become a global advertising behemoth, pocketing billions of dollars every year from brands promoting their goods through the company’s search engine and on YouTube. But the changes, which will be introduced in the coming weeks, highlight the difficult balance between protecting Google’s advertising business while also allowing free speech.
By giving brands greater say over where their ads appears, experts say, Google is acknowledging that it has not done enough so far to police the material on its sites.
“Recently, we had a number of cases where brands’ ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values. For this, we deeply apologize,” Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, said in a blog post Tuesday. “We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us.”
Google’s efforts to clean up its act show how dependent it remains on online advertising, despite the large bets its parent company, Alphabet, has made on other technologies, like driverless cars and health care.
Last year, Alphabet made $19.5 billion in net profit, a 23 percent annual jump, almost all of which was generated from Google’s advertising business.
Google’s public mea culpa follows the pulling of ads by Havas, a French advertising multinational. Havas withdrew spots for several of its clients from the search giant’s digital services in Britain after failing to receive assurances that they would not be shown next to offensive material.
As part of the advertising revamp, Google said that it would rigorously vet online content that could be considered hate speech