Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Google's Parent Company Gets Stock Rating Downgraded on "Brand Safety Concerns"

Google's Parent Company Gets Stock Rating Downgraded on

Google, which owns YouTube, responded by saying it would take steps to better monitor content on the site and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear.

TheNewsGuru gathered that Google is facing a wave of angry customers after advertisements from major brands and the United Kingdom government appeared alongside content from hate preachers and extremist groups.

Matt Brittin, who runs Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "I would like to apologise to our partners who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content".

Both Facebook and Google had to investigate how their online ad networks helped support such low-quality sites, and advertisers started applying more scrutiny to where their ads showed up.

"Google faces a hostile industry of media owners in Europe...and we expect they will be all too happy to highlight future brand safety failings", said Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

"We need to make sure we compete in a more effective media world, but we also need to hold ourselves to account", he said.

For background, there was an outcry last week as some ad buyers said their ads were placed alongside terrorist videos on Google's YouTube network.

Google has said it would focus on improving policies regarding what is deemed "safe" for advertisers, including a refinement of definitions of hate speech and inflammatory content, strengthening controls and accelerating takedowns of content. A clutch of companies followed suit, including McDonald's, Audi and L'Oreal and global advertising firm Havas, as well as three United Kingdom banks-RBS, Lloyds and HSBC-and announced over the weekend they would withdraw their ads with Google.

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Media-buying firms are also increasingly resentful of the power wielded by Google and Facebook Inc., claiming the two companies operate a global duopoly over online advertising.

Ryan says it is the responsibility of agencies, publishers and clients to collaboratively ensure brand advertising safety.

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.

Google said in a blog post that its automated algorithms are not always able to prevent ads from being matched with offensive content but added that this only occurs on rare occasions.

The decision to pull ads from Google followed a Times of London investigation that revealed ads from many large companies and the United Kingdom government appeared alongside content from the likes of white nationalist David Duke and pastor Steven Anderson, who praised the killing of 49 people in a gay nightclub.

Mark & Spencer's withdrawal is another serious blow for Google, which has a near monopoly on the digital advertising market, at a time when the company is facing a crisis of confidence amongst advertisers.

"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".

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