Three of the UKs biggest banks have joined the queue of powerful advertisers ditching Google over their failure to tackle extremist YouTube videos.
HSBC, Llyods and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) took the decision amidst growing fears that parts of their advertising budgets are being used to fund terrorist organisation, including the Klu Klux Klan and ISIS.
Multinational companies McDonald’s, L’Oreal and Audi have already frozen their YouTube spending. A number of Government departments, including the UK, have also made the move; as has M&S, Channel 4, The Guardian and BBC, and Havas – the French advertising giant.
Sky, Barclays and Vodafone are also thought to be hovering over the trigger, although they’re believed to be waiting to see how Google reacts to what’s fast becoming a crisis.
Google, the world’s most valuable brand worth over $109 billion, according to Forbes, controls approximately 35 per cent of all online advertising. Their dominance is now under serious threat, unless Google is able to resolve the issues rapidly.
Ads for dozens of multinational companies have been shown alongside videos posted by extremists including David Duke, former leader of the Klu Klux Klan. Rape apologists and holocaust deniers are also among those to have received payouts from Google for YouTube adverts.
Ads appearing alongside a YouTube video earns the page owner roughly $8 for every 1000 clicks it generates, meaning many of the aforementioned brands have unknowingly contributed funds to extremists.
Internet giants including Facebook and Google regularly absolve themselves of responsibility for ads on their platforms, claiming their algorithm based ad exchange has little to no human input. While that might be true, both giants’ insistence that they’re technology companies, not media outlets, and thus can’t be regulated as a magazine or TV show would be should they publish extremist views, is immature.
“They cannot masquerade as technology companies, particularly when they place advertisements,” said Martin Sorrell, head of global ad agency WPP.
Ronan Harris, a senior Google executive in the UK, addressed the issue in a blog post. Claiming the company does its best to ensure advertisers are not published alongside offensive content.
“However, with millions of sites in our network and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we recognise that we don’t always get it right,” he said.