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[UPDATE: Google Responds] Names Of Brands Who Stopped Advertising With Google After Ad Placement On Extremist Sites


Google advertising seems to be receiving a lot of flak over its ad placement of household brands on extremism promoting websites. Brands like Marks & Spencer, McDonald's UK, and Lloyds are namely the few brands who have stopped advertising their products on Google-owned sites. A report from Sky News states that the brands have done it out of concern for their brand safety.

The tech giant has apparently fallen short on the safety procedure for ad placements that ensures that the brand name is not placed against extremist or hate-inducing content. Due to the problem with Google's ad placing policy, many of the well-known brands have pulled their ads.

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Here are the names of the brands who have stopped advertising with Google after spotting their ad on hateful websites - Marks & Spencer, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds, Havas UK clients - the BBC, O2, Domino's, the Royal Mail and others, The Guardian, The UK government, McDonald's UK, L'Oreal, and Audi. Along with these brands, Vodafone, Sky, and Barclays might also follow in stride.

A report by the Times uncovered the issue with Google's advertising tool that placed UK government and brand ads on extremist YouTube videos and websites. After the report went viral, UK's major media group - Havas, suspended the advertisements of its clients such as O2, the Royal Mail, the BBC, and Domino's from Google websites. With these advertisements showing up on hate sites, these brands were indirectly and unknowingly contributing to extremism enticing agencies.

On Friday, in a blog post titled - 'Improving our brand safety controls', Google's UK managing director Ronan Harris said:

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. While we have a wide variety of tools to give advertisers and agencies control over where their ads appear, such as topic exclusions and site category exclusions, we can do a better job of addressing the small number of inappropriately monetized 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.

Reports also state that Google will also be holding a meeting with its clients over this matter. It would be interesting to see if the aforementioned brands reinstate their advertisements on Google websites.

UPDATE: The tech giant finally broke its silence on the issue and published a fresh blog post explaining its new methodology for ad-placement. It will now be giving more control to advertisers along with ability to banish extremist sites and video channels from the campaign. The new default setting for ads will keep objectionable content away from the premises.

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In its blog post, Google wrote:


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. We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us […]

We’ve already begun ramping up changes around three areas: our ad policies, our enforcement of these policies and new controls for advertisers.