No advertiser spending hard earned money to advertise on Google would like his ad to run over terrorist videos on YouTube. There’s simply no scope for any rationalization here; such offensive videos just shouldn’t be on there on YouTube. So, what is Google doing about it? It has done almost next to nothing say the media agencies and the brands they service.
The result – advertisers have begun moving away from Google and won’t return until terrorist and other offensive content is shut out. AT&T, Verizon, J&J and GSK are some of the major advertisers that have pulled out of YouTube and although it’s a trickle now, Google can’t afford to overlook their grievance because they have a strong case. Google can’t afford to wait till this trickle turns into a tide.
David Cohen, North American president of IPG’s strategic global media unit Magna, said, “This is not a new topic; I’ve been talking about brand safety in the digital space for 20 years.” Google had it all and it now seems determined to lose a huge slice of it with its bizarre inaction in shutting out terrorist videos. According to Melissa Lea, US managing director at global consultancy, R3, “Developments in advertising technology also played a key role. The programmatic world is evolving so quickly that tech is moving faster than humans can manage it.” And Denise Colella, Sr. Vice president, ads, at NBC Universal, reckons programmatic is “A double-edged sword and there is a lot of efficiency and automation to be had, but then there’s also the danger of open market places.”
While other platforms are tackling the problem as best as they could, considering the seriousness of the situation, Google appears to have adopted a defensive position. The best that Google could do so far is to issue unclear statements to media outlets, a couple of blogs aimed at pacifying advertisers and an email that it sent to industry stakeholders in which it tried to explain some policy changes that it had supposedly planned. Magna’s Cohen says, “Their post was pretty light in terms of details. I think, had they implemented these changes, 90 percent of the placement of ads in non-safe environments over the past month could have been prevented. We are pushing them hard to allow third party companies into the Google ecosystem—not to report after the fact, but as a preventative measure. That is not available today.”