Google has come under-fire the past week for being lax in removing extremist content that incite hate and anti-Semitism. The issue escalated when The Times displayed a picture of The Guardian’s ad appearing on an extremist video as if the company endorses this kind of behaviour. The fallout has been painful- many big companies like HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Audi, and BBC have withdrawn their advertisements from the famous platform . The list goes on.
The ad in question. Image Source: https://goo.gl/sGhuya
As any other social media platform, Google and Google-owned YouTube earn their revenue through ads, so the news of many brands pulling out deals a huge blow to Google. To resolve the issue, Google’s Matt Brittin has since apologized to advertisers who ‘have been affected by their ads appearing on controversial content’ and vowed to take responsibilities to these issues seriously.
Tech giants like Google and partner Facebook have been dodging this bullet by seeing themselves as tech companies- they merely provide a platform for content and so are not responsible for content created. However, Sir Martin Sorrell, head of global ad agency WPP, believes strongly that these ‘tech companies’ have to admit they are media companies- ultimately they are content providers and must be responsible.
To undo this mess, the tech giant has made a pledge to improve its placement of adverts and would spend more money on enforcement to act faster. To solve this, there has to be changes in two areas- removing most extremist content and allowing customers more control over their ad. The current method of reviewing only when a particular content is reported by users has proven inadequate. Change is needed.
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As Google makes changes to its content-control, this would affect companies who advertise online. Firstly, as Google tighten up on content regulation, there would be a greater need to be aware of your own content to avoid being banned and ultimately lose potential customers. Nevertheless, a positive that might arise out of this is Google’s plan to introduce more ways for customers to control how and where their ads appear. As companies have more control over their ads, customer reach should increase as long as there is a solid understanding of the market.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the coming weeks as Google tries to win back advertisers. As a digital media agency, we suggest keeping an eye on events like these because they do affect one’s marketing strategy in the digital world. As big-name advertisers threaten to pull the trigger, there is just one thing Google needs to ask- ‘Do I feel lucky?’
*Marketing Connection is a digital marketing company that specializes in website design and online marketing in Penang. We love to help new businesses to grow their business further.