Verizon, AT&T suspend ads
from Google over offensive videos
Send a link to a friend
[March 23, 2017]
By Anjali Athavaley, Jessica Toonkel and Julia Love
wireless carriers Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc said on
Wednesday they have suspended digital advertising on Google's YouTube
and other advertising platforms not related to search over concerns that
their ads may have run next to extremist videos.
Verizon and AT&T joined a list of well-known British brands such as
retailer Marks and Spencer Group Plc deserting Alphabet Inc's Google.
Google is under fire in Europe from politicians and brands angered by
ads appearing alongside videos on its YouTube platform carrying
homophobic or anti-Semitic messages.
Google on Tuesday vowed an overhaul of its practices. The company must
act swiftly to ensure that more advertisers do not pile on, analysts
As advertisers revolt, the search giant faces both a short-term loss of
revenue and a long-term danger that companies will lose faith in the
automated placement of ads upon which Google has built its empire, said
analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.
"The bigger risk is this seems to be a backlash against programmatic
advertising in general," Dawson said. "There's this worry that you no
longer have control over where ads appear."
AT&T is removing ads from the non-search inventory on Google because its
"ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and
hate," the company wrote in an email.
Verizon said it had suspended all digital advertising not related to
search after saying earlier on Wednesday that it had only suspended
advertising on Google's non-search platforms. It took the action after
its ads were appearing on "non-sanctioned websites," a spokeswoman wrote
in an email.
"We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to
understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the
future," the spokeswoman said.
Google declined to comment on individual customers but said it has begun
a review of its advertising policies. The news that AT&T and Verizon
were suspending Google ads was first reported by Britain's Times
[to top of second column]
The Verizon logo is seen on the side of a truck in New York City,
U.S., October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
big brands, such as Mondelez International Inc <MDLZ.O>, were keeping an eye on
the situation. While Mondelez has not seen evidence that its ads have appeared
alongside inappropriate content, it is in “constant discussion with both Google
and YouTube and will be monitoring the issue closely,” a spokeswoman said.
YouTube has been a key driver of growth for Google as its traditional business
of search advertising matures. Google’s net ad revenue worldwide from YouTube
was $5.58 billion last year, according to New York-based research firm eMarketer.
It is expected to hit $7 billion in 2017, according to a forecast by eMarketer
made before the recent controversy.
question many people are asking is whether advertisers will reallocate the
marketing dollars they have devoted to YouTube to other platforms, said Brian
Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research. Wieser, however, thinks that if the
boycott is widespread enough, no one else will benefit.
“If you know all of your competitors are reducing their spending too, then you
don’t need to spend more,” he said.
Google must walk a fine line between giving advertisers more control and
alienating the massive community of content creators who have made the site a
top destination for coveted young viewers. One likely path forward for Google is
to tighten controls on which videos are eligible for advertising, perhaps by the
channel's track record or number of viewers, said Dawson. But any such
restrictions risk hurting artists with small followings.
"Google is caught between a rock and a hard place here between its creators and
its advertisers," Dawson said.
(Reporting by Anjali Athavaley and Jessica Toonkel in New York and Julia Love in
San Francisco.; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.