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M&S suspends advertising on Google

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Google will give clients more control over where their ads appear on YouTube

Not only is there still ongoing backlash from YouTubers over LGBTQ+ videos being filtered out by the "Restricted" feature; but some major advertisers - including the United Kingdom government - are now pulling their ads from the site, over fears of them sitting next to "inappropriate" content.

A report by the Times uncovered the issue with Google's advertising tool that placed United Kingdom government and brand ads on extremist YouTube videos and websites. The UK Government, The Guardian and Marks & Spencer are among those that have pulled ads since the revelation.

Rob Norman, the CDO with Group M, the world's largest advertiser, used the opportunity to criticize the most powerful ad platform in the world, saying Google needs to admit publicly that a flaw exists in their technology.

Havas, one of the world's biggest advertising agencies, has halted advertising for 240 clients, including O2, the Royal Mail and EDF.

It is expected that the controls brands have over their ads and where they will appear are to be modified said Brittin, however we will have to wait to see what exactly the new policies and privileges will be.

Later, the parent company Havas said it would not take any action outside the United Kingdom, and called its United Kingdom unit's decision "a temporary move".

Also, "measures to avoid advertising fraud and misplacement in the future" must be taken into serious consideration. "We are working with Google to resolve the issues so that we can return to using this valuable platform in the United Kingdom".

Britain is the largest market for Alphabet Inc.'s Google outside the United States, generating $7.8 billion mainly from advertising in 2016, or almost nine percent of the USA giant's global revenue.

"We have always said Google, Facebook and others are media companies and have the same responsibilities as any other media company", Mr Sorrell said. The controversy about ads appearing in inappropriate contexts may give these media buyers leverage in negotiations with the social media giants.

He said Google has begun a review of its ad policies and brand controls, and will be making changes in the coming weeks.

Explaining their decision, a Marks & Spencer spokesperson said: "In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through".

The company's first steps will be to review where and how ads are placed and a stronger enforcement of keeping inappropriate content off the site.

Google advertising seems to be receiving a lot of flak over its advertisement placement of household brands on extremism promoting websites. Extremist videos were also found on YouTube alongside the client advertisements.

Brand safety is a growing concern, especially in digital advertising, with the ability to have complete oversight over all content, especially user-generated such as YouTube, being hard. "Our position will remain until we are confident in the YouTube platform and Google Display Network's ability to deliver the standards we and our clients expect". "Although spending by advertisers who have announced their intention to suspend spending on YouTube and other Google properties is relatively small so far, we think that awareness of the incident will marginally curtail global growth this year versus prior expectations, leading us to reduce our price target on Alphabet slightly, to $950 versus $970 previously".

This comes after Google came under fire when its highest-grossing YouTube entertainer included Nazi imagery on his videos. It said it was seeking "urgent assurances" from Google that the problems were being addressed.

What emerges from all this is firstly how Google deals with the crisis and secondly what it says about the reliability of programmatic ad tech as a whole.

Dan Brooke, Channel 4's chief marketing and communications officer, said the channel is "extremely concerned" about its advertising being placed alongside offensive material on YouTube. L'Oreal said it planned to work more closely with Google to make sure it didn't happen again.

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