Google Europe boss apologises for ad placement


Following on from yesterday’s report: “Ethical Concerns about placement cause UK companies to pause their Google Ads”

Business Insider reports that at a breakfast briefing with journalists shortly before he took to the stage at Advertising Week Europe, Google Europe boss Matt Brittin said the annual ad event gave Google a “good opportunity to say first and foremost, sorry, this should not happen, and we need to do better.

“There are brands who have reached out to us and are talking to our teams about whether they are affected or concerned by this. I have spoken personally to a number of advertisers over the last few days as well. Those that I have spoken to, by the way, we have been talking about a handful of impressions and pennies not pounds of spend — that’s in the case of the ones I’ve spoken to at least. However small or big the issue, it’s an important issue that we address.”

Brittin also explained that with so much content beng added daily –  400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and thousands of sites are added to the AdSense network each day – that policing the giant network is very difficult. He added Google has no intentions of curtailing free speech:

“It’s not our job to be a censor, it’s for the government. So you will find online content that you violently disagree with, that you find incredibly distasteful, but that is a legitimate point of view and not illegal. And that is one of the joys of the web and the voices that are there. That’s different to the issue of what’s safe for advertisers, which is more tightly defined.”

Brittin said Google plans to “raise the bar” on its own advertising policies, and added that 98% of content which breach terms and conditions are removed within 24 hours, but Brittin also stated “we can get better on that as well.”

Google will also make its advertiser controls easier to use, including changing some of the default settings to be more stringent on brand safety.

Brittin later apologised to Googles customers during his speech at the conference: ‘I would like to apologise to our partners and advertisers who might have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content.’

However Brittin declined several times to say whether Google start to seek out extremist content, rather than investigating only after users flag up inappropriate material, such as videos on YouTube, which it owns.

This was not deemed to be enough by the Home Affairs Select Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper, she told the Guardian:

“This apology from Google doesn’t go far enough, They need to say whether they will be paying back any of that advertising revenue and to answer our questions on what more they are doing to root out extremism or illegal activity on YouTube because they are still failing to do enough to remove illegal or hate-filled content from YouTube.

“They still don’t seem to have woken up to the seriousness and toxicity of some of the videos they are still hosting and their own responsibility to deal with that. And they still haven’t agreed to use any of their much-feted search engines to identify illegal content such as National Action videos and remove them.

“It isn’t enough for Google to respond only when their advertising revenues take a hit. They are one of the biggest and most powerful companies on the planet. They can afford to do far more, far faster to deal with illegal and hate-filled content online.”



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