The battle of keeping digital advertising “safe”

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For many years, internet giants such as Google and YouTube have been and are still facing one of the most difficult tasks to date; showing safe advertising to the public. Although there are many policies in place to keep digital ads safe, many companies and users are still affected by this problem.

YouTube Advertising

Many large companies have now pulled their ads from YouTube including:

  • PepsiCo
  • McDonalds
  • Audi
  • HSBC
  • ITV
  • Disney

The main reason for this is because their digital ads were appearing on offensive material. Ads were also appearing against videos, which included hateful and unpleasant comments.

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Source: BBC News - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47311482

So should YouTube be banning these comments and videos in the first place?

As more offensive content was appearing on the platform, YouTube made the decision to switch off “almost” all videos featuring under-18s. In addition to this change, many channels that were “endangering” children were also banned. These changes only happened in February 2019, so it’s clear to see that there is still more room for improvement. 

Another issue YouTube are coming up against is that their search algorithm should not be showing “bad ads” in the first place. Large companies should be able to trust YouTube to place their ads onto videos that don’t harm their reputation.

YouTube has started to make big changes on their platform to prevent this from happening again. Disabling comments, removing negative videos and accounts is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work needed to keep us safe from harmful material.

Google Advertising

When it comes to advertising on Google Search, there seems to be an opposite pattern occurring for keeping ads safe. Here are some 2018 stats from their latest blog:

  • 2.3 Billion bad ads were taken down
  • 207,000 of these ads were from ticket resellers
  • 531,000 of these ads we for bail bonds
  • There were approximately 58.8 million phishing ads banned
  • Approximately 6 million bad ads are removed every day
  • 734,000 publishers and app developers were banned

Ok so you get the idea, Google is cracking the whip when it comes to removing ads on their platforms. 

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Source: Google - "Enabling a safe digital advertising ecosystem"

But YouTube is owned by Google right?

Correct! And the other question to ask is “are the 2.3 billion banned ads on Google also banned on YouTube?” This blog isn’t clear about the adverts on YouTube, but we know that it's possible to create ads on the platform via Google Ads. It’s a big number so you would hope that YouTube ads were included on this list!

Will digital advertising be 100% safe in the future?

Whatever policies and guidelines you throw at content creators, the bad ones will always find a way to beat the system. The constant battle between the creators and the companies will continue long into the future, as online safety becomes a major priority. 

The internet has been changing for over 30 years, and we are finally starting to see that Google and YouTube are making changes to manage the safety of advertising for users. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, so it’s vital that these companies continue to improve online safety for everyone.

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