The Guardian cuts online ad ties with Google amidst brand safety concerns

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 17 March 2017

The Guardian has withdrawn all its online advertising from Google and YouTube after it found its ads were being placed next to extremist material.

The problem is understood to have arisen through the use of AdX, Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange Service, which uses programmatic trading.

Guardian CEO David Pemsel wrote to Google to say that it was “completely unacceptable” for its advertising to be misused in this way.


He said the Guardian would be withdrawing its advertising until Google can provide guarantees that this ad misplacement via Google and YouTube will not happen in the future.

The content included YouTube videos of American white nationalists, a hate preacher banned in the UK and a controversial Islamist preacher.

The move follows a number of brands in the UK and Australia being found to be unwittingly placing ads next to ISIS, white supremacist and pornographic content.

This has led to concern mounting around brand safety on digital platforms, with experts warning that these environments offer no guarantee to where the content will be shown.

According to a report in The Guardian, Pemsel is urging other brands to blacklist the Google-owned companies until ad placement guarantees are put in place.

"There is an urgent need for the industry to come together to develop a meaningful system of self-regulation," Pemsel says.

“The decision by the Guardian to blacklist YouTube will have financial implications for the Guardian in terms of the recruitment of members to fund our journalism.

“Given the dominance of Google, DoubleClick and YouTube in the digital economy, many brands feel that it is essential to place advertising on your platform. It is therefore vital that Google, DoubleClick and YouTube uphold the highest standards in terms of openness, transparency, and measures to avoid advertising fraud and misplacement in the future. It is very clear that this is not the case at the moment.”

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