Marks & Spencer has become the latest company to freeze all its advertising on Google and YouTube, following revelations that their advertisements were being displayed alongside videos that advocate extremism.
Major brands including international media agency Havas, the BBC, HSBC, Lloyds, L’Oreal, and Audi have already pulled their adverts, with companies such as Sky also considering an ad freeze.
The UK government has also stopped its YouTube spending, which is part of a £60m annual budget for digital advertising, until the problem is resolved.
An M&S spokesperson said:
In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through.
On Friday Havas indicated that Google was “unable to provide specific reassurances . . . that their video or display content is classified [as acceptable] either quickly enough or with the correct filters” and would implement the freeze until Google can work out a solution.
Google has already apologised publicly for the problem, first reported by The Times, which resulted in advertising from the Home Office, the BBC and Transport for London displayed next to hate-inciting and homophobic videos.
Google said it would change both its technology and its policies to give more control to advertisers on its platforms. Currently it flags and then reviews questionable content, and deals with about 200,000 flags a day. The company says 98 per cent of those are reviewed within 24 hours.