Two of the world’s largest telcos, AT&T and Verizon, have joined a growing number of blue chip brands to pull advertising on YouTube and Google’s Display Network amid concerns over brand safety.
They join Johnson & Johnson and car rental giant Enterprise Holdings as the latest brands outside of Europe to stop advertising after an investigation found ads were appearing alongside content featuring hate speech, extremists and rape apologists — and that Google refused to remove the offending videos, even after being contacted numerous times.
AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company, says it will remove ads from Google’s non-search platforms until the it can find solution to better protect brands.
The Cabinet Office placed a temporary restriction on YouTube advertising, “pending reassurances from Google that Government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way”.
Several major British brands have also halted their advertising with the firm, including Marks & Spencer, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Audi, the Royal Mail and BBC. Core Media, which represents Heineken, AIB and the National Lottery of Ireland among others, made its decision to suspend ad campaigns with YouTube and GDN over concerns that ads were appearing within videos that did not suit their clients’ branding.
“We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” an AT&T statement read.
Verizon, one of the largest advertisers in the world, says it took immediate action to suspend advertising when it became aware ads were appearing on “non-sanctioned websites”.
“We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future,” Verizon said in a statement.
Enterprise, one of the largest rental car providers, says it is working with media agencies and executives at Google and YouTube to find a solution.
“As you probably know, programmatic buying is a relatively new advertising ‘science,’ and has only become mainstream within the last four or five years,” a statement read.
“Although it is effective in dealing with the highly fragmented nature of the digital ad world, programmatic buying is still evolving as a business practice – and it appears that technology has gotten ahead of the advertising industry’s checks-and-balances. There is no doubt there are serious flaws that need to be addressed.”
Global pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline has also pushed the pause button and joins more than 250 organisations, including the UK government, Toyota, Tesco and McDonald’s.