Head of Google Europe apologises over ads on extremist content

Yolanda Curtis
March 20, 2017

It follows a United Kingdom government decision to remove its adverts from YouTube - which is owned by Google - after it emerged they had appeared alongside content from supporters of extremist groups.

Havas Group Asia-Pacific has said it will not pull programmatic advertisements from Google and YouTube following a media storm in the United Kingdom over brands appearing next to videos with "questionable or unsafe content", such as terrorist propaganda.

RBS, Lloyds and HSBC also announced similar moves over the weekend.

According to the paper, the ads were appearing on hate sites and next to YouTube videos created by supporters of terror groups such as Islamic State.

An investigation by the Times has raised fears that advertising spending is finding its way into the hands of rape apologists, anti-Semites and hate preachers through commercials on YouTube, which earn the poster around £6 for every 1,000 views it generates.

"We accept that we don't always get it right and that sometimes, ads appear where they should not".

Senior figures from the company were summoned to the Cabinet Office last week over concerns that United Kingdom taxpayer-funded adverts were appearing alongside "inappropriate" YouTube videos. The lenders join a growing list of big advertisers who have withdrawn marketing from the search engine and its YouTube video platform.

Speaking on a panel discussion at Advertising Week Europe in London on Monday, Roth said: "We did have one or two clients that had [ads appearing in inappropriate slots on Google platforms] and we discussed it with Google".

Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and United Kingdom government over the company's plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material.

The UK government and a host of other private sector firms have stopped advertising on YouTube due to concerns the ads have appeared alongside extremist and otherwise "inappropriate" content.

Rob Norman, the chief digital officer of WPP's media-buying division GroupM, told Sky News that Google should apologise to companies whose reputation was "compromised".

"They can not masquerade as technology companies, particularly when they place adverts".

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