Google’s YouTube is engulfed in a new brand-safety crisis: Several major advertisers froze spending on YouTube after an investigation revealed their spots were running against videos featuring kids in states of undress and other situations that had drawn comments from pedophiles.
Brands including Adidas, Deutsche Bank, Mars, HP, Diageo, Cadbury and Lidl pulled ads from YouTube over the issue, according to a report Friday by the Times of London. That came after the newspaper discovered the marketers’ ads had run in videos with young girls in underwear, doing the splits, and rolling around in bed — which included sexually inappropriate comments posted by viewers. According to the report, the videos themselves appeared to be uploaded by kids with no intent to appeal to sexual predators.
In response to the report, YouTube said in a statement, “There shouldn’t be any ads running on this content, and we are working urgently to fix this.”
The boycott is a replay of the global advertiser backlash in early 2017 after ads were discovered showing up in terrorism and hate speech videos in a previous investigation by the Times. YouTube has repeatedly vowed to do better, including implementing new screening processes to filter out offensive content from the site, hiring additional staff, and rolling out tools designed to give advertisers better controls and tracking of their ads.
“Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google,” Mars said in a statement to media Friday.