Following bitter complaints and withdrawal of ads from YouTube by several blue chip companies in the UK, Google has announced major shifts in policy. The announcement affects Google’s policies on advertising and hate speech.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Google promised to give brands greater control over where to place their ads and most importantly, guard against “hateful, offensive and derogatory content:
“Recently, we had a number of cases where brands’ ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values. For this, we deeply apologize. We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us. That’s why we’ve been conducting an extensive review of our advertising policies and tools, and why we made a public commitment last week to put in place changes that would give brands more control over where their ads appear.”
Google’s change in policies came on the heels of investigations carried out by The Times of London in which it reported that ads from the UK government and some blue chip companies were appearing alongside extremist YouTube videos.
The companies are said to be embittered about their ads appearing side-by-side videos being posted by extremists like the Islamic State, ISIS on YouTube. Three of UK’s biggest banks including HSBC, Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) expressed fears that some of their budgets for ads are being used to fund banned hate preachers, extremists, terrorist organizations and racists among others.
The bank’s decision is coming on the heels of other blue chip companies that have taken similar steps to pull ads from Google’s streaming website, YouTube. Other companies that have that have expressed their displeasure over Google’s nonchalant attitude towards the videos include, motor giant Audi, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, and a couple of government agencies. Their action does not only end with ads on YouTube, but affects Google search as well.
Google’s shift in policies, according to Bloomberg, represents a sharp turn for the search engine giant. Google had maintained a neutral position as regards its ads policies before the outcome of the investigations carried out by The Times.
“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values. So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites” said Google’s Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler.
The new changes give brands and advertisers power, including a default setting for companies that wish to start a marketing campaign. This means when companies that wish to start a campaign sign up, websites and videos deemed “potentially objectionable” will be automatically excluded by Google.
The most interesting of the changes made by Google to its ads policies as they affect online content is that which gives advertisers control over where to place ads. This is good news because as an advertiser, it means you can now fine-tune where you want your ads to appear.
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