Storm Clouds Over Google Reach America

Over the past two weeks, multiple companies in Europe have pulled their advertising from YouTube. The advertising boycott of YouTube broadens now, with Google experiencing trouble in the U.S. as well.

Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase & Co, car rental firm Enterprise, Verizon Communications Inc, and AT&T were the first big U.S. companies to suspend all digital advertising on YouTube.

This was followed by PepsiCo, Walmart, Dish, GM and Starbucks confirming late last week that they have also suspended their advertising, after the Wall Street Journal found that Google’s automated programs placed their brands next to videos containing racist content.

“We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate.”

“Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.”

The situation has worsened even though Google had initially apologised to the brands, and suggested steps to ensure ads don’t appear alongside homophobic or anti-Semitic videos. Google has since promised an overhaul of its practices, and has started an extensive review of its advertising policies.  

Google has also shared that they intend to block more objectionable videos from being posted on YouTube in the first place.

In addition to just suspending their spending on YouTube, several companies have said they intend to stop buying ads that Google places on more than two million other third-party websites.

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine (after Google search), with over 400 hours of video uploaded every minute, one billion hours of video consumed every day, and around US$11 billion in revenue just last year alone.

Experts have estimated that Google would have already experienced a loss in the millions because of this situation. The effects on Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, however, are barely noticeable, with their shares down by only 4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.

Google has shared that they plan on implementing changes as soon as this Sunday, but hasn’t given details of the effectiveness of their new tools or their plans of wooing their advertisers back.

It looks like it might be possible that these storm clouds over Google might clear up, but only time will tell how soon.

Prabin Yonzon

Prabin is the Head of Organic Search and CRO at Pure SEO. He has over nine years of experience in digital marketing, specialising in SEO, CRO, and analytics. Apart from his day-to-day work at Pure SEO, he is also highly involved in conducting webinars and in-house training for some of the well-known brands in New Zealand and overseas.

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