Google has announced plans to introduce safeguards for advertisers after complaints from many big names that their advertisements were appearing next to extremist content. The Guardian, the BBC, and the UK government are among those to have withdrawn advertising from Google and YouTube, and the company has been battling to get companies back on side.
Google’s Chief Business Office, Philipp Schindler, has admitted that while there are policies in place controlling the ad network, “at times we don’t get it right.” He says he understands that advertisers don’t want their ads to appear next to content that is not in keeping with their values, and more will be done to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Acknowledging the problem that came to a head last week, Schindler says: “Recently, we had a number of cases where brands’ ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values. For this, we deeply apologize. 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.”
Clearly keen for advertisers to see that something is being done straight away, Schindler goes on to say:
Starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.
Advertisers are to be granted greater control over where their ads appear, and new default settings mean that ads will not appear next to “potentially objectionable” content, unless an advertiser explicitly broadens its parameters. Advertisers will also be able to more easily exclude ads from particular sites or channels, and more fine-tuning will be introduced.
Google has faced criticism for its over-reliance on automated algorithms to take care of policing its networks, and this is something that will also be addressed. The company is investing in people to try to improve monitoring and help speed up the review and resolution process:
We’ll be hiring significant numbers of people and developing new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising. In cases where advertisers find their ads were served where they shouldn’t have been, we plan to offer a new escalation path to make it easier for them to raise issues. In addition, we’ll soon be able to resolve these cases in less than a few hours.
Image credit: Sandra_Violla / Shutterstock