What’s the deal?

Over the past couple of weeks, Google has been facing some major heat for allowing its ads to appear alongside sensitive and offensive videos on YouTube. Although the internet giant has apologized for its mistake, several high-profile firms such as Marks & Spencer and HSBC have already begun pulling advertising for British markets from Google sites. Even the British government has suspended its advertising on YouTube after some public sector ads appeared beside videos containing homophobic and anti-semitic messaging.

Google is also facing criticism from some of the world’s largest advertising agencies who depend on the search engine as an ad distribution platform to reach consumers. Advertisers are becoming increasingly more aware of the situation and beginning to reevaluate the way they work with Google in order to prevent their ads from showing on content that may damage the image of the companies they work with.

 

What was the result?

According to estimations made by marketing experts, extremists reaped a whopping $318,000 from advertisements placed alongside their YouTube videos! One particular YouTuber, whose videos are considered anti-Western and encourage radical behavior, has already generated approximately $78,000.

 

What’s next for Google?

Since the blunder, Google has worked hard to remove ads appearing on pages and videos containing potentially inappropriate content, but with the vast amount of video being uploaded onto YouTube, sometimes it is difficult to catch everything.

To be honest, I don’t see this issue affecting Google’s advertising business too greatly in the long-run. After all, it is the most widely used search engine in the world and is capable of generating billions of dollars just from ad revenue. However, I do believe this is going to prompt Google to reconsider the way it filters through certain content in order to avoid placing its ads on content brands and advertisers wish to not be associated with. For a company whose corporate motto is “don't be evil,” Google needs to consider adding safer defaults for AdWords campaigns, as well as enforce its ad policies faster.

 

How can Tailwind help you prevent this?

As part of our campaign management process, we routinely review placement reports for the display campaigns we run. In doing so, we recently noticed our ads were appearing on politically-charged editorial websites that one of our clients DID NOT want to be associated with. Here are some things our agency does to help prevent our ads from appearing on certain sites that do not align with the brands we represent:

 

1.    We always have early conversations to learn more and truly understand our clients values.

Since we can help direct where their ads will show, we need to have an idea of the type of sites and content they want to be associated or not associated with. It takes years to build up an admirable brand image, so focusing on this particular step is highly critical.

 

2.   We create campaign placement exclusions lists in the Shared Library that we opt every campaign into.

It can be challenging to go into every single campaign in an account and search through all placements over a specific date range. With that in mind, we generally look out for placement “themes” and take note of any site that can fall into a specific category like gaming, for example. We realize these types of sites generate very few clicks and no conversions across various campaigns, so we add them into the shared list. As a result, all campaigns will automatically be excluded from those sites, which saves me a lot of time.

 

 

3.   Under the Placements tab of a display campaign, you can find site category options.

When you click on the +Option button, you are given the ability to exclude entire categories of sites, content, or ad placements. For example, if you don’t want your ads appearing on sites containing sexually suggestive content, you can easily switch the option from “enabled” to “excluded.”

 

 

 

Going through those steps above, as well as routinely checking your campaigns’ placement reports, you’ll have more control over where your ads show.  With a little work, you can ensure your placements are more relevant and brand-focused than ever before.

 

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/17/extremists-ads-uk-brands-google-wagdi-ghoneim?platform=hootsuite

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-google-idUSKBN16R1T8

About the author

Media Analyst, Tailwind

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