Google loses over 250 YouTube advertisers due to misplaced ads on extremist videos

An investigation led by The New York Times revealed yesterday that ads for the Guardian’s membership scheme were being displayed on some extremist-related videos on YouTube. The situation developed after an advertiser company working for the Guardian used Google’s AdX ad exchange to promote the newspaper subscription service.

The Guardian was warned of the situation last Thursday and quickly pulled their ads from Google's platform. As stated by Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer of Guardian News & Media:

“We needed to react very, very quickly. We knew the next day that our brand, which is fundamentally important to us, was about to be splashed over the Times front page for all the wrong reasons.”

But David Pemsel, the Guardian’s chief executive, went further and urged other brands to also blacklist Google-based ads until the company acts to guarantee this sort of ad misplacement won't happen again in the future. The result was a huge advertiser boycott that has already led more than 250 companies away from Google's ad platform. Here is a list of some of the biggest advertisers from the US and the UK who are no longer advertising with Google:

UK US
  • Argos
  • Audi
  • Aviva
  • Havas Group UK (brands managed by the agency include Dominos Pizza, O2, Royal Mail, BBC, and Hyundai Kia)
  • Heinz
  • Honda
  • HSBC
  • ITV
  • L'Oreal
  • Lloyd's Bank
  • Marks & Spencer
  • McDonald's
  • RBS
  • Sainsbury's
  • Tesco
  • The Guardian
  • Toyota
  • Transport for London
  • UK Government
  • Volkswagen
  • AT&T
  • Beam Suntory Inc.
  • Dish Network
  • Enterprise
  • FX Networks
  • General Motors
  • GSK
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • PepisCo
  • Starbucks
  • Verizon
  • Walmart

Following the Guardian's action, a Google's spokesman released the following statement promising to make the necessary changes to deal with the situation:

“We accept that we don’t always get it right, and that sometimes, ads appear where they should not. We’re committed to doing better, and will make changes to our policies and brand controls for advertisers.”

Finally, analysts are already estimating how much money Google may lose due to this massive boycott. YouTube was initially expected to have a $10.2 billion revenue for 2017, but updated projections estimate a reduction of about 7.5% of that amount, or $750 million.

Source: The New York Times

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