Google Gives Advertisers More Control After YouTube Backlash

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WPP-owned GroupM is capitalizing on Google’s advertising problems by partnering with OpenSlate to offer tools to help advertisers buy brand-safe ads on YouTube. The partnership between OpenSlate and GroupM could be the first step in getting Google to open up its data to advertisers and third-parties. Last week, Google found itself in the middle of a public relations storm after dozens of global companies pulled their ads from YouTube after it was discovered that ads from a few reputable brands appeared next to user-generated content on YouTube that promoted hate speech. To give advertisers more control of where their ads run, OpenSlate would provide ratings to GroupM’s clients on YouTube content for brand safety and quality. GroupM counts L’Oréal, HSBC Bank, Llouds Banking Group and Marks and Spencer as some of its largest clients, and these tools will be available initially to advertisers in the US and UK, GroupM said.

GroupM clients will be among the first advertisers to chip away at Google’s advertising walled garden by being able to monitor content from videos in the Google Preferred program and in Google’s other advertising programs, which include AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager. Advertisers with GroupM can, for example, choose to exclude their ads from running alongside offensive YouTube videos or channels, and they’ll also gain insight on where their ad campaigns were displayed if they paid for Google Preferred ads. This is a big step given that Google has historically not offered advertisers the ability to track ads. GroupM will also get the data that its clients receive. GroupM says that advertisers will have to pay slightly more to access OpenSlate’s reports.

Since the crisis began, AT&T, Verizon, FX Networks, PepsiCo, Dish Network, Starbucks, JP Morgan Chase & Co, GM, Johnson & Johnson and Lyft had pulled their ads from YouTube alongside more than 250 advertisers in the UK. Disney-owned Maker Studios also severed ties with Felix Kjellberg, who maintains a PewDieDie channel on YouTube because he had posted several videos with anti-Semitic content. Even though the impact of the advertising boycott may be minimal on Google’s bottom line, at stake is up to $750 million of ad revenue, according to some analysts. Google claims that more than 400 hours of videos get uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it hard to monitor inappropriate content. Since the crisis broke, Google had updated its policies, hired more staff to develop artificial intelligence tools to identify offensive content and made improvements to ensure that ads are not placed alongside brand-damaging content.