Shawn McKenzie
By Shawn McKenzie | SEM | March 30, 2017

Advertisers Pull YouTube and Google Ads

Why Pull YouTube and Google Ads?

The story broke on March 17th when an investigation by Britain’s The Times showed ordinary ads were appearing alongside user-uploaded YouTube videos promoting hate and extremism. Ads for several offices of the British government, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the Home Office were also documented to show advertisements in conjunction with various known hate speech and extremists. For most government and organizations simply appearing next to these video’s would be cause enough for alarm. But what you may not know is YouTube shares the ad revenue with the channel.  This means that government funds were going to these extremists, unwittingly funding their activities.  This realization caused the British government to immediately pull YouTube and Google ads and, in the time since, many companies around the world have followed suit.  

photo credit The Times, article found here.


Why Google – YouTube Care

YouTube is the second most visited site in the world with over a billion hours of video being watched on a daily basis. Such a huge audience is nothing to scoff at, especially when a growing list of national governments and some of the biggest ad spending companies stop using the service. While YouTube was the initial focus of controversy advertisers have taken action in a wide range of ways. Some have pulled only YouTube ads while others have paused all Google ad spending. As of 2016 a full 88.7% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising and if it can’t restore advertisers’ trust they will continue to pull Google and YouTube ads.   

Google’s Response

Google’s initial response was typically vague, noting that ads are placed based on an algorithm. Reading between the lines, there are hints that users have not been utilizing all the features provided to them for ad targeting.  In a followup blog post by Google’s Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler, an outline is laid out for sweeping changes in both how content is screened and account level controls for the advertiser.  As expected these changes will take time to implement, and in the meantime advertisers continue to pull ads off of various Google networks. As Google rolls out changes we will review the new controls and best practices.

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