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Google may need to do more to reassure advertisers that its websites are safe for big brands, as the US’s leading advertiser trade group called the placement of ads next to extremist videos a “crisis”.

Bob Liodice, chief executive of the Association of National Advertisers, called on Friday for the tech company and other digital advertising groups “to take the necessary steps to guarantee the safety and reputations of our brands.”

“Brands choose those platforms to work hard for them to achieve all of their business and brand building objectives. But the most important of those priorities is “to do no harm,” said Mr Liodice, whose group represents 15,000 brands that collectively spend $250bn on marketing and advertising each year.

He said the decision by some ANA members to pull their spending from YouTube and other Google websites this week was “rational, appropriate and warranted.” Brands that have suspended advertising on Google include AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Volkswagen, L’Oréal and the UK government. Google has publicly apologised and vowed to revamp its advertising policies and products, but it has thus far failed to assuage big brands’ concerns.

Pivotal Research downgraded Google owner Alphabet this week, warning of “global repercussions” from the advertising boycott.

On Friday, Moody’s, the rating agency, said the loss of YouTube advertisers was “credit negative” to Alphabet but does not impact its Aa2 rating.

“The loss of ads and increased costs and investments clearly has negative consequences, both from reputational and financial performance perspectives,” said Neil Begley, Moody’s senior vice president “However, we believe that these high-profile companies represent a very small fraction of the total number of advertisers that continue to use YouTube for their marketing. Also, we believe the revenue implications as a result of these events are temporary as the company appears laser-focused on remedying the problems and handing more control to advertisers in limiting the exposure of their advertisements.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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