Big advertisers withdraw from YouTube over video scandalHeat Profit
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Lidl, Mars, HP, Deutsche Bank, Sky and BT have pulled advertising from YouTube and its owner Google after their campaigns appeared alongside videos featuring children and sexualised comments.
Lidl, the German superMarket chain, said it was “shocked and disturbed” by the revelations that explicit comments had not been removed from videos of young children by Google’s video sharing site.
It added that the revelations were “completely unacceptable” and showed that “the strict policies which Google has assured us were in place to tackle offensive content are ineffective”.
Mars removed its ads from both YouTube and Google ahead of one of the busiest shopping days of the year on Black Friday, after details of the videos emerged.
“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” Mars said.
Broadcaster Sky and its Now TV service also pulled ads from YouTube.
Other advertisers criticised Google for failing to identify inappropriate videos. HP suspended all advertising on YouTube, saying Google had wrongly classified its content. “We are deeply troubled to learn that one of our advertisements was placed in a terrible and inappropriate context,” it said. “This appears to be the result of a content misclassification by Google.”
Deutsche Bank suspended its YouTube advertising campaign, while BT and TalkTalk removed ads from the flagged videos.
The videos and the explicit comments were first revealed following an Investigation by the BBC and the Times newspaper.
YouTube relies on algorithms to identify inappropriate content on its site. It also encourages users to report videos or behaviour that breaks its rules.
However, the world’s largest video sharing site has come under repeated criticism for failing to proactively police the content on its platforms after ads appeared alongside videos advocating extremism.
In March, Google’s European boss was forced to apologise to advertisers after the UK government and big companies such as Marks and Spencer and Havas froze campaigns.
Earlier this week, YouTube had said it was toughening its standards for removing videos that could endanger children even if that was not the uploader’s intent.
“Content that endangers children is abhorrent and unacceptable to us,” a spokesperson for YouTube added on Friday.
“We have clear policies against videos and comments on YouTube which sexualise or exploit children and we enforce them aggressively whenever alerted to such content.
“We have recently toughened our approach to videos and comments featuring children which may not be illegal, but give cause for concern.”
Reporting by Aliya Ram, Mark Vandevelde, Matthew Garrahan and Nic Fildes