March 25

YouTubes Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Googles Faceyoutube movie ads

YouTubes Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Googles Faceyoutube movie adsMark Zuckerberg Speaks Out on Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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Matan Uziel of Real Women Real Stories hopes YouTube figures out that its content provides an important service, that the money paid by advertisers supports his ability to produce videos that provide women a place to speak out on a difficult subject. It might be sensitive, but it serves a public good. Until Google can start better these distinctions, both advertisers and creators will have trouble trusting the company.

And now Google has little choice but to try to fix it. Just a few advertisers control so many of the ad dollars, and theyve been primed by recent events to be more conscientious about brand safety. Pressure from them could push Google to become more consistent and careful about what it allows on its platforms and where it allows ads to appear. We draw a sharp distinction between free speech and the right to do business with a private company, says Josh Zeitz, vice president of communications at AppNexus, whichlast year blocked Breitbart Newsfrom using its adserving tools after it determined the site violated AppNexus hate speech policy. We have our advertisers brand safety to look after, and we have a moral code to live by. If we wont work with a publisher, that doesnt stop them from directly selling ads to advertisers.

If it wasnt obvious before that Googles ad inventory was problematic, now it is, Wieser says.

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YouTubes Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Googles Face

While we recognize that no system will be percent perfect, we believe these major steps will further safeguard our advertisers brands, Philipp Schindler, Googles chief business officer, said in a statement.

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To be sure, Google ces major technical challenges in policing where ads appear. Users upload as much as hours of content to YouTube every minute. And millions of websites rely on the companys platform to funnel ads to their sites. But claiming sheer logistics doesnt satisfy everyone in the ad world as an excuse. After all, no other company has done better at money off of performing technical feats at a massive scale. Google may be reluctant to stand between publishers and advertisers for fear of becoming too much of an arbiter of whats appropriate. But it also makes a lot of money off of ads in part by the path from advertiser to targeted audience eyeballs as efficient as possible.

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By then, Uziel had made and posted close to a dozen videos to a YouTube channel calledReal Women Real Storieswomen speaking frankly into a camera about their experiences of ual abuse. The view counts on some of the videos had climbed into the thousands, qualifying them forpreroll adsplaced through YouTubes advertising program. They were bringing Uziel and his team a modest amount of money. But Google was now pulling the plug. The company would not let ads run on his latest videoand eventually all the others. The problem, he was told the sensitive nature of the videos.

About a week ago, theTimes of Londonpublishedan investigation revealing ads sponsored by the British government and several private sector companies had appeared ahead of YouTube videos supporting terrorist groups. In response, advertisers started pulling their spending from YouTube and the wider Google ad network. The boycott has grown as more problems have emerged. PepsiCo and WalMart havenow joinedthe ranks of advertisers pulling dollars from Google.

Its difficult to understand what motivates Google, says one advertising executive who did not want to be seen publicly criticizing a company with which nearly all advertisers have to work. When youve operated a marketplace, or owned and operated inventory thats been so noncompliant with basic standards for so long, you cant erase that mark overnight.

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Uziel sent an appeal to Google, but the company denied it. A Google representative told Uziel in an email that the videos titles could be automatically triggering the sites filters. But Uziel says he never got a full explanation from the company of what really got the ads pulled from his videos.

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That same confusion simmers at the heart of Googles current ad debacle. Over the past week, major advertiserseveryone from the British government to ATThave pulled their ad buys from YouTube after their banners appeared over videos posted by extremists. Google has apologized. But the company still has a more basic transparency problem. Google ostensibly wants to make sure uploaders of hate speech and abuse dont get paid. But as Uziels experience demonstrates, that effort can come at the expense of deserving content. The opacity around Googles standards and practices, as reflected in their inconsistent enforcement, creates uncertainty at the heart of one of the internets most popular services. Until Google truly fixes the problem, the internetand one of its core business modelswill suffer.

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Late last year,Israelbased entrepreneur Matan Uziel saw a notification hed never seen before pop up on YouTubes backendthe part of the site where creators upload their videos. I saw a yellow dollar sign. At first I didnt understand what it was, Uziel says. Then I moved my cursor over it. I saw it meant my video was not advertiserfriendly.

YouTubes Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Googles Face

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Googles ad system has long suffered from these weaknesses. But ever sinceFacebook admitted to flawsin how it reported ad performance to ad buyers, digital advertising has come under greater scrutiny, says media analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. On top of that, advertisers fear beingseen as subsidizersof the festering scourge of ke news.

YouTubes Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Googles Face

Google for its parthas saidit is examining its policies and renewing its commitment to better police content. It will accelerate reviews of potentially objectionable videos and filter more ads while giving advertisers more control over where their ads appear.