Google apologized today for allowing ads to appear next to offensive YouTube videos after high-profile firms like Mark's & Spencer (MAKSY) and HSBC (HSBC) pulled ads for British markets from Google sites.
Australian advertisers will closely analyse a United Kingdom boycott of Google ads, as major brands, including the United Kingdom government, pull ads from the technology giant after they were placed alongside undesirable content, such as extremist material and hate speech.
France's Havas SA, the world's sixth-largest advertising and marketing company, pulled its United Kingdom clients' ads from Google and YouTube on Friday after failing to get assurances from Google that the ads wouldn't appear next to offensive material.
"As an organisation we conduct extensive work with our clients to develop brand safety protocols at the brand level, which will positively influence all their activities".
"We haven't suspended in the United Kingdom on YouTube because we're tracking the situation", Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed said at the Advertising Week event in London. They now include McDonald's, the BBC, L'Oréal, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, the Guardian, Audi and Channel 4.
Mail Online might be expected to feel some empathy for Google actually - it's been the "victim" of advertising boycotts itself, for example over a vile homophobic article following the death of pop star Stephen Gately.
Havas spends about £35 million a year on the search engine on behalf of United Kingdom advertisers. We take our responsibilities to these industry issues very seriously.
The British government said last week that it would temporarily restrict its advertising on the company's platforms.
Internet giants including Facebook and Google have historically absolved themselves of responsibility for some of the content hosted on their platforms by insisting they are "technology companies" rather than media outlets, meaning they can not be regulated and fined in the way that newspapers, books or magazines would be if they published the views of extremists.
Martin Sorrell, the founder and chief executive officer of WPP, the global advertising firm, said in a statement that Google and Facebook have "the same responsibilities as any media company" and can't "masquerade" just as simple technology platforms. After the Wall Street Journal made inquiries, Google pulled ads off of the videos but left the content up.
On Friday, Google executives were called in to face questions from the advertising industry and Britain over the issue.
"As programmatic advertising continues to grow, we need to be ever vigilant and responsive, working with clients and partners to ensure brand advertising only appears in brand safe environments", Ryan says. But advertisers weren't using such tools, .