Advertisers Ditch Google Over Extremist YouTube Videos
Google has apologized to businesses whose ads appeared next to extremist videos on YouTube. It follows several major brands and the British government dropping Google advertising over the affair.
The Times newspaper reported that videos from extremist groups had appeared beside advertising from many a host of big businesses and government agencies. That not only meant embarrassment but could mean that the advertisers were unwittingly -- if indirectly -- contributing to extremist groups.
Content Classification Confusing
Google's Matt Brittin told a conference that he wanted to "apologize to our partners and advertisers who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content. We take our responsibilities to these industry issues very seriously."
The British government has suspended its advertising on any Google service until the matter is resolved. This includes promotional campaigns to recruit blood donors and military staff. They are joined in that step by Havas, one of Europe's biggest advertising agencies. (Source: bbc.co.uk)
The controversy is somewhat confusing because there are three different issues. One is whether the YouTube video is legal to show at all; another is whether the YouTube video breaches Google's content standards, which covers matters such as: violence, mature content, threatening behavior and content that is deceptive as part of a scam. However, it's the third issue that's causing the problems. That's the category of YouTube videos which are inherently legal and meets Google's content rules, but which is controversial enough that Google decides not to put advertising beside it.
Google Revenues Could Take A Hit
Advertisers say they need to be able to rely on Google's classification for this category so that their message or brand is not associated with unsuitable videos. Google's problem is developing clear enough guidelines for this category - not just for the benefit of advertisers, but also to make sure video creators who want to benefit from ad revenue can make sure their content is suitable.
The controversy is serious enough that one stock analyst has downgraded Google from a 'buy' to a 'hold' recommendation because he believes the advertising boycotts could significantly harm revenue. (Source: cnn.com)
What's Your Opinion?
Are the advertisers right to boycott Google? Is it practical for Google to vet every video that might carry ads? Should Google go further in blocking extremist material from appearing on the site at all, whether or not it carries ads?
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