To top off the week in which companies like Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, and AT&T pulled their ads from YouTube due to placement around content that was offensive or hateful on their platform, according to today’s reports, not even the brand name of YouTube is safe from this problem.
On Friday, Jack Nicas, a reporter of Wall Street Journal tweeted an ad screenshot for an original movie of YouTube Red appearing as an ad on a user-submitted video, which was titled as Michelle Obama Dancing to the song Alabama Ni**er. This revelation came few moments after Nicas tweeted that Starbucks, Pepsi Co., and Walmart were among some of the advertisers that have either pulled or suspended their YouTube ad spending.
When YouTube was asked about the YouTube Red ads appearing on racist content, there was no comment from the network except that they are working on addressing the concerns of the advertisers.
This damaging news mixture clearly shows that a fiery downfall is waiting to happen, but things are yet to reach the fever pitch. YouTube needs to do some damage control and they need to do it fast. It’s not just YouTube; ads on Google’s other networks are also showing near offensive content. Google needs to keep a more rigorous check on this.
Recently, on Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, and AT&T pulled their complete ad spending from Google Non-Search Properties over the concerns that the company’s ads were displayed alongside content that is controversial, racist, or inappropriate like clips that promoted racism and ISIS.
This was after Havas UK suspended their spending on the platform last week after which Google had issued a post on their blog that promised their advertisers that soon they would have more control on where their ads seem to appear.
Removing countless ads from tons of YouTube videos is going to be really complex because of the automated system of Google. Concerns on all this user-generated content has already been bubbling for many years.
Taking another example, Adweek also spotted Netflix running a pre-roll of their upcoming series titled ‘13 Reasons Why’ (a 15 second pre-roll) beside the YouTube PewDiePie channel, the controversial YouTube star. He was recently removed from Google’s Preferred and Maker Studies just because he was making statements that were anti-Semitic in his YouTube videos. A Netflix representative did not respond to the email that asked him about this ad buy.
Josh Kolm, a Toronto-based advertising journalist and news editor at Strategy Magazine, also used his Twitter account to highlight where the major brand advertisements appeared on YouTube in Canada as well.