Google to revamp ad policies after United Kingdom, big brands boycott

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United Kingdom retailer Marks & Spencer Group Plc pulled advertising from Alphabet Inc.'s Google, joining other brands fleeing the search engine giant over concerns that their spots were appearing alongside offensive clips on its YouTube video-sharing site.

The limitations of programmatic adtech are in the spotlight after major advertisers, including the United Kingdom government, pulled ad spend from Google's YouTube after finding themselves associated with extremist groups.

Google already provides controls that allow advertisers to choose where their ads go, said Matt Brittin, Google's president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"We've made a public commitment to doing better and making improvements in three areas: raising the bar for our ads policies; simplifying advertiser controls and adding safer defaults; and increasing investment in enforcement to act faster".

The announcement came after the United Kingdom government and the Guardian newspaper pulled ads from the video site, stepping up pressure on YouTube to police content on its platform.

Speaking on a panel discussion at Advertising Week Europe in London on Monday, Roth said: "We did have one or two clients that had [ads appearing in inappropriate slots on Google platforms] and we discussed it with Google".

The main issue appears to be with automatic advertising, as Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange initiative relies on programmatic buying to match mainstream brands with content. Google now accounts for 85 per cent of all digital ad spend in the United Kingdom, and while it removed almost two billion offensive ads and blacklisted 100,000 publishers past year, it is still falling short in providing a completely brand-safe environment.

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"We're not confident that this approach will be sufficient to remedy advertiser concerns", a statement from the group said. "When anything like this happens we take responsibility for it".

Ryan says it is the responsibility of agencies, publishers and clients to collaboratively ensure brand advertising safety. "We need to improve and we will do".

On Friday, Google executives were called in to face questions from the advertising industry and Britain over the issue.

Publicis, the world's third largest advertising firm, said in a statement on Monday that it was clear Google had fallen short of meeting advertising standards and that the French company was reviewing its relationship with Google.

"We have suspended all Sainsbury's and Argos advertising on the site with immediate effect and are seeking urgent assurances from Google that this issue is being taken seriously and addressed".

The San Francisco-based company, along with fellow Silicon Valley tech giant Facebook, has dominated digital advertising, taking up the lion's share of new money and squeezing traditional media such as television and newspapers.

The digital behemoth has promised to alter its technology and policies, offering more control to advertisers.

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