Irish brands pull ads from Google in fears over extremist content

Core Media, Ireland’s largest ad-buying group, has paused its clients’ campaigns

Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler apologised to advertisers, saying Google would take “a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content”

Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler apologised to advertisers, saying Google would take “a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content”

 

Core Media, Ireland’s largest buyer of advertising, has suspended its business with Google and YouTube over fears that ads are appearing alongside extremist content.

The group told clients on Wednesday afternoon that it was pausing all advertising campaigns on YouTube and the Google Display Network until it receives greater reassurances from Google about the placement of ads.

The move means Core Media clients including Musgrave, the National Lottery, Aviva and Heineken will not for the moment advertise on YouTube or on the mass network of sites on which Google places display ads.

“It’s not about a boycott. It is about a pausing of activity,” said Justin Cullen, chief digital and data officer for the Core Media group.

Mr Cullen said Core Media, which purchased about €225 million worth of advertising on behalf of brands in the Irish market last year, had been contacted about the issue by several clients earlier this week.

Most of the inquiries came from international groups that had already pulled their advertising from Google in the UK. Major companies from supermarkets to banks and consumer groups withdrew their campaigns in the UK market after their ads appeared alongside YouTube videos carrying homophobic and anti-Semitic messages.

Brand safety challenge

Core has now decided it will also suspend its campaigns with the Californian technology giant. Core chief executive Alan Cox tweeted that the policy would remain in place until it can be “confident that a solution to the brand safety challenge is in place”.

Advertisements on the Google search network are not affected by the withdrawal.

Senior Google executives have promised reform of its policies to allay fears. Chief business officer Philipp Schindler apologised to advertisers on Tuesday, saying Google would hire significantly more people to tackle the issue and take “a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content”.

“We feel there is still a fair bit of work to do on their side,” Mr Cullen said. “There’s still a few gaps in the fence.”

While only a small percentage of advertising inventory is at risk of being placed beside inappropriate content, “for many clients a very small risk is still too big”.