Home Strategy Google placing big-name ads on anti-Semitic YouTube videos: report

Google placing big-name ads on anti-Semitic YouTube videos: report

Google ads for big-name brands are continuing to appear on unsavoury YouTube videos a week after the problem surfaced with the placement of advertising on unsuitable UK sites.

Companies in the US such as Verizon and AT&T began pulling their ads from Google sites last week, following the appearance of these ads alongside content such as videos of terrorism supporters.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that ads for big companies like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Amazon and Microsoft were seen by its own reporters on five videos which had anti-Semitic and racist content.

It said Google removed four of these videos after it was told about them, and pulled advertising from the fifth.

The newspaper said one of its reporters had found advertising from big brands on about 20 videos that appear to violate Google's terms of service after just five hours of scouring media on YouTube.

When the newspaper asked Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Wal-Mart and Dish Network about this, they said they were putting their advertising with Google on hold, apart from targeted search advertisements.

Starbucks and General Motors also said they were pulling their ads from YouTube while FX Networks, part of 21st Century Fox, said it was stopping all Google advertising, including search ads and YouTube.

The WSJ said it had found ads for Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Toyota, Dish Network, Berkshire Hathaway’s Geico unit and Google’s own YouTube Red subscription service on two videos with the word "nigger" in the title. These videos had 425,000 and 260,000 hits.

However, Toyota and Microsoft did not pull their ads, but only said that they were monitoring the situation. Amazon and Geico did not respond to the WSJ while Procter & Gamble would not say whether it was cutting its ad spend.

Last week, the British arm of the French firm Havas SA withdrew ads for clients in the UK from YouTube and the Google Display Network.

Havas SA’s chief executive Yannick Bolloré said his firm was investigating whether ads should be removed globally.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.