Core Media ends YouTube boycott

One of the country's largest ad agencies returns to "very controlled campaign activity"...

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This photo shows signage at the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles | Image: Danny Moloshok / AP/Press Association Images

Core Media, the Irish ad giant that counts the likes of AIB, Aviva, Heineken, Musgrave and the National Lottery as clients, has provisionally called off its boycott of YouTube.

The Irish Independent reports that country's largest media communications group has decided to "recommence some very controlled campaign activity" on the video service.

It had suspended its campaigns on the Google-owned site following revelations that ads could appear alongside extremist content and even go towards funding its creators.

Chief digital and data officer Justin Cullen said of the limited return:

"This applies to all of our clients as opposed to individual brands.

"We have had a number of campaigns activated over the last few days in these controlled areas of YouTube."

Mr Cullen confirmed that the campaigns would be restricted to Vevo channels and homepage placements without re-targeting possibilities.

Core Media revealed it has been seeking assurances from Google over "brand safety" and the possible risks of ads being placed alongside hate-speech or homophobic content:

"We have seen a commitment from Google to deliver a better experience for advertisers that reduces potential compromise," Cullen added.

Some 250 brands pulled their ads from the platform worldwide as a result of the controversy, with market analysts estimating that Google has lost as much as €750 million in revenue as a result.

Google's damage limitation

Last month, Google announced that it was introducing new tools to tackle extremist content and overhauling its policies in a move to end a mass boycott of advertisers.

The tech giant had come under pressure to deal with a situation where videos from terrorist sympathisers were rubbing shoulders with – and being funding by – mainstream ads on its YouTube platform.

Google chief business officer Philipp Schindler went as far as issuing a rare company apology. Writing in a blog post that also outlined a wide-ranging overhaul of how it is tackling extremist content, he said that Google was aware that companies and other organisations don't want their ads "next to content that doesn't align with their values".

Schindler said:

"We have strict policies that define where Google ads should appear, and in the vast majority of cases, our policies and tools work as intended. But at times we don’t get it right...

"For this, we deeply apologise. We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us.

"That’s why we've been conducting an extensive review of our advertising policies and tools, and why we made a public commitment last week to put in place changes that would give brands more control over where their ads appear."

The solution

His solution involves a three-tier revamp of policies across YouTube and its various other platforms.

To begin with, a vast reduction in extremist content can be expected:

"Starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content."

Google is also moving to ensure that impersonators of other channels are unable to host advertising, while YouTube takes a "hard look" at its current community guidelines.

Secondly, advertisers will have more control over where their money goes – thus preventing it from being spent on extremist content. Default options will be tightened to exclude "potentially objectionable" content right away. After than, companies will be able to exclude specific channels and sites from their campaigns and fine-tune where their ads appear.

Finally, advertisers will be offered "more transparency and visibility on where their ads are running".

This involves not only new AI tools, but the hiring of “significant numbers of people” to review content on an ongoing basis.