Google apologises for ad scandals, revamps ad polices

Google has promised a wide-ranging overhaul of its advertising policies in response to a growing boycott of the company’s platforms from leading brands and advertisers including the UK government, Volkswagen and L’Oreal.

Google says it will pull online ads from controversial content, give brands more control over where their ads appear and will deploy more people to enforce its ad policies.

The moves come in response to a growing controversy over the placement of online ads from major brands next to offensive or extremist content that prompted some marketers in the UK to pull their spending. Adding fuel to the fire: Google’s growing share of digital advertising.

“We deeply apologise,” said Philipp Schindler, chief business officer of Google.

“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values,” Schindler wrote in a blog post. “So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.”

Among the new tools for advertisers that Google says it will be introducing in the “coming days and months” are:

  • Stricter default settings for ads so they are less likely to appear beside “potentially objectionable content”, as Google puts it — with brands having to actively opt in to advertise on “broader types of content if they choose”
  • New account-level controls to make it easier for advertisers to exclude specific sites and channels from all of their AdWords for Video and Google Display Network campaigns, and enabling them to manage brand safety settings across all their campaigns “with a push of a button’
  • Additional controls aimed at making it easier for brands to exclude “higher risk content and fine-tune where they want their ads to appear”

The company says it will be hiring significantly more staff to handle the issue, as well as developing additional tools — saying it will seek to apply AI and machine learning to “increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising”.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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