Google announces new brand safety controls for display & video advertisers

After coming under fire, Google says it will address advertiser concerns over extremist content.

A day after Matt Britton, Google’s EMEA head of operations, apologized for advertisers’ ads appearing adjacent to extremist content — after a stream of advertisers announced they were puling ad from Google’s ad networks — the internet giant’s chief business officer announced new brand safety controls.

As Marketing Land has reported, the Google Display Network includes many extremist sites propagating right- and left-wing ideologies, hoaxes and misinformation. The company updated its policies to address mirepresentative sites in November but did not address brand safety concerns of ads appearing alongside extremist content and misinformation.

Philipp Schindler, Google chief business officer, wrote that as of Tuesday, the company is “taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.”

The changes are also meant to address complaints of brand messaging appearing on extremist videos on YouTube. Schindler said Google will “ensure that ads show up only only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner Program — as opposed to those who impersonate other channels or violate community guidelines” and take another look at its ad policies.

The changes as Schindler announced them:

  • Safer default for brands. We’re changing the default settings for ads so that they show on content that meets a higher level of brand safety and excludes potentially objectionable content that advertisers may prefer not to advertise against. Brands can opt in to advertise on broader types of content if they choose.
  • Simplified management of exclusions. We’ll introduce new account-level controls to make it easier for advertisers to exclude specific sites and channels from all of their AdWords for Video and Google Display Network campaigns, and manage brand safety settings across all their campaigns with a push of a button.
  • More fine-tuned controls. In addition, we’ll introduce new controls to make it easier for brands to exclude higher risk content and fine-tune where they want their ads to appear.

Schindler continued to assert that the company mostly gets it right and has controls like topic exclusions and site category exclusions. Yet he added that advertisers will have more visibility into where their video and display ads appear and that the company is reviewing its polices.

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