Finance

Google's identity crisis: Media or tech company at heart of ad row

Google's identity crisis: Media or tech company at heart of ad row”

Google Europe's boss, Matt Brittin, has apologised to an advertising conference in London after big brand ads had appeared against "extremist" content on Youtube and caused a flurry of protest in the United Kingdom, with a long list of major brands instituting a partial boycott.

According to latest press reports, other large brands working with agencies beyond Havas, including the United Kingdom government, L'Oreal, HSBC, Sky, Marks & Spencer, McDonald's and Audi, have also signaled that they would or could suspend their advertising on YouTube and other Google ad products.

Matt Brittin, Google president for business and operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, apologized for the problem, saying the company was simplifying controls for advertisers and speeding up reviews of content flagged by users as potentially offensive.

A spokesperson from Google said last week that the firm is "committed to doing better", but this morning the tech giant appeared to shift blame onto the companies hit by the advertising scandal.

"As an organisation we conduct extensive work with our clients to develop brand safety protocols at the brand level, which will positively influence all their activities".

"We have placed a temporary restriction on our YouTube advertising pending reassurances from Google that government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way", the British government said in a statement.

The Australian advertising industry is holding talks this week aimed at curbing unsafe digital media advertising that damages brands amid a backlash in the United Kingdom against Google's advertising practices.

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The UK government has a £60 million a year digital advertising budget.

Dan Brooke, Channel 4's chief marketing and communications officer, said the channel is "extremely concerned" about its advertising being placed alongside offensive material on YouTube.

"We have always said Google, Facebook and others are media companies and have the same responsibilities as any other media company". "When anything like this happens we take responsibility for it".

Earlier this week, Havas Group UK chief executive and country manager Paul Frampton announced last week the agency was stopping its UK clients' spend on Google until the internet company sorts the issue.

A spokesman for ISBA urged Google to "immediately review its policies and controls on the placement of advertising and to raise the bar to eliminate the risk of brands being damaged by inappropriate context". After the Wall Street Journal made inquiries, Google pulled ads off of the videos but left the content up.

Martin Sorrell, CEO of the global advertising firm WPP, said that Google must do more.

"We have suspended all Sainsbury's and Argos advertising on the site with immediate effect and are seeking urgent assurances from Google that this issue is being taken seriously and addressed". "We need to stand back and not roll from one issue to another", he added.



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