Google announces new ad policies after boycotts

Google executives will be summoned to the Cabinet Office on Whitehall to explain how they will stop Government ads appearing on extreme content

Havas, a major European marketing firm, recently said it would pull its clients' ads from YouTube and the Google Display Network in the United Kingdom after ads began running next to "questionable" content, including videos supporting terrorism.

In a new blog post, Google's chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, "deeply apologized" to brands whose ads became associated with the hateful videos, and described the ways in which YouTube is seeking to give marketers more control and transparency. The company updated its policies to address mirepresentative sites in November but did not address brand safety concerns of ads appearing alongside extremist content and misinformation.

This led the government to immediately pull advertising support from Google and call upon the local executive to quiz them on their ad placement policies.

The new policy changes include, "removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories".

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Google already provides such controls, but advertisers weren't using them perhaps because they were too complex, said Matt Brittin, Google's president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The British government put its YouTube advertising on hold on Monday, saying "it is totally unacceptable that taxpayer-funded advertising has appeared next to inappropriate internet content - and that message was conveyed very clearly to Google". Adding fuel to the fire: Google's growing share of digital advertising.

Google said in a statement that it has "strict guidelines" that define where ads should appear.

Outside of the U.S., Britain is Google's largest market for advertising revenues.

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Besides well-known British brands pulling the plug, some of the world's biggest advertising agencies responsible for placing vast amounts of marketing material for clients said they were reviewing how they worked with Google.

If the company is to avoid a mass defection of advertisers, it needs to reassure them that it is taking the problem of brand safety seriously, something it has not done a good job with so far.

He pledged Google would hire significant numbers of people and harness its latest developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning to review questionable content for advertising. Keyword filters and visual recognition software have allowed companies to keep their ads away from some content, Liang says, but such methods are less effective when it comes to extremist content, which can take a variety of forms. But the complexity of ad exchanges and a lack of oversight have made it harder for them to control where their ads appear.

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