YouTube losing major advertisers who are upset with offensive, extremist videos
SAN FRANCISCO — AT&T, Verizon, Enterprise Holdings and other major advertisers are pulling hundreds of millions of dollars in business from Google and its video service YouTube despite the internet giant’s pledge this week to keep offensive and extremist content away from ads.
AT&T said that it is halting all ad spending on Google except for search ads. That means AT&T ads will not run on YouTube or 2 million websites that take part in Google’s ad network.
“We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.”
YouTube’s popularity stems from its massive and eclectic library of video, spanning everything from polished TV clips to raw diatribes posted by people bashing homosexuals.
Sanette Chao, who handles marketing communications and branding for Verizon, confirmed that mobile operator has also pulled its ads.
“Once we were notified that our ads were appearing on non-sanctioned websites, we took immediate action to suspend this type of ad placement and launched an investigation,” Chao said in a statement.
Google declined to comment on the defection of advertisers.
“As announced, we’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear,” the internet giant said in a statement. “We’re also raising the bar for our ads policies to further safeguard our advertisers’ brands.”
The decision by major U.S. brands to yank ads, first reported by the Times in the United Kingdom, suggests that an advertiser boycott that began overseas is quickly spreading. That, despite assurances this week from Google that it would pull online ads from controversial content, give brands more control over where their ads appear and would deploy more people to enforce its ad policies.
Google is attempting to quell a growing boycott by the British government and major brands in the U.K., and now the United States, angered over the placement of online ads alongside offensive or extremist content — such as videos by white supremacists.
So far, Google has not done enough to reassure advertisers, says Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser, who downgraded Google parent company Alphabet’s stock on Monday. He had warned the U.K. boycott could have global repercussions for Google.
More than 250 organizations including the British government, Toyota and McDonald’s have stopped advertising on YouTube in the U.K., according to the Times.