Written by Nick Heer.

Google Says They Will Revamp Ad Policies After Boycotts

Some more followup for a story I covered yesterday, when the Guardian announced that they would be suspending their Google ad buy since their ads were appearing on extremist and hateful websites and YouTube videos. The Guardian called for other brands to join them, and join them they did.

Joe Mayes and Jeremy Kahn, Bloomberg:

[…] the U.K. government and the Guardian newspaper pulled ads from the video site, stepping up pressure on YouTube to police content on its platform.

France’s Havas SA, the world’s sixth-largest advertising and marketing company, pulled all its U.K. clients’ ads from Google and YouTube on Friday after failing to get assurances from Google that the ads wouldn’t appear next to offensive material. Those clients include wireless carrier O2, Royal Mail Plc, government-owned British Broadcasting Corp., Domino’s Pizza and Hyundai Kia, Havas said in a statement.

Some good news though: Google is giving advertisers more control over placement. Ronan Harris of Google:

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.

Google provides no specifics, and I’m curious to see how this could feasibly work. Harris prefaced Google’s announcement by stating that their ability to control ad placement is fairly limited:

However, with millions of sites in our network and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we recognize that we don’t always get it right. In a very small percentage of cases, ads appear against content that violates our monetization policies.

There are some well-known websites and YouTube channels that most people would reasonably consider hateful, bigoted, and xenophobic, but there are also plenty that aren’t as well-known. How will this be policed? Reporting offenders is not in the interest of those who frequent the kinds of websites and channels targeted by these changes.