Advertising on Google? Beware.

When watching YouTube, do you ever notice the types of ads that pop up on videos? Often you may see advertising from the Macau casinos that has been placed targeting the local market geographically. If you are watching a make-up tutorial, you may see L’Oreal ads and when watching a funny video, Coke ads may populate. This is how brands expect their ads to be placed on YouTube, matching ads with like content. A few weeks ago in the United Kingdom, however, large brands discovered that their ads were appearing next to offensive content, including videos posted by terrorism-affiliated groups on YouTube.
Brands like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Verizon Communications Inc., L’Oréal and Coca-Cola discovered that their ads placement was undesirable, and they immediately began pulling their ads from Google, who owns YouTube. Some investment houses are stating that Google could take a 7.5 per cent hit to its revenue due to this loss of advertising.
Google ads are automated, meaning they are placed automatically using algorithms. It is unclear if Google changed its algorithm recently or if people are just now noticing the errors. This week, Google said it is “changing the default settings for ads so that they show on content that meets a higher level of brand safety and exchanges potentially objectionable content.”
Many brand advertisers also want to be more involved in placing the ads themselves, but it is yet to be seen if Google will allow this new activity.
Brand awareness is a key reason to place advertising on Google. The powerhouse search engine has excellent targeting abilities allowing companies to focus ads on their key demographics with ease. In YouTube world, accounts that receive revenue, earn money when consumers click on ads that accompany videos. Unfortunately, when advertising populates on objectionable content, it does mean that the offensive account could be making income from the ads.
Google is not able or willing to give information to brands as to where their ads are specifically placed on YouTube videos, but as they scramble to alter their algorithm to appease customers, now is the time to review your Google ad accounts. Macau’s restaurants, hotels and casinos buying Google ads do so with the expectation that their ads are being placed in front of potential customers. Is it possible that their ads are being placed with undesirable videos? While Google is sorting out their issues, it may be a good time to pause or pull and review your April advertising campaigns to ensure that your ads are being placed correctly.